Where Do You Hide When the Long Ships Come?

More Morning Musings

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been reading the history of the British Isles, mainly the border country between Scotland and England — and it has been a long a bloody story. Invasions by the Roman army, the Irish kings, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, as well wars and raids between a long list of local tribes like the Picts and the Scotti. The original Celts slaughtered or driven into Wales, Ireland, and Brittany.

Over time it seems these mini-kingdoms came to some uneasy settlement, but then came the Vikings. The Danes, or Norsemen. Dozens of long ships would appear in the firth one morning…

Image by saramarses — Pixabay

I never knew the Vikings were so business-like in their enterprise. They knew where to find the richest plunder – the silver, gold, and jewels – so they hit the monasteries and churches. They knew the best time to raid was during some saint’s feast day, when crowds gathered to celebrate, bringing their offerings to the priests. Not only did the raiders grab the loot, but they captured slaves to be sold abroad. Apparently the slave trade was a hefty part of the Vikings’ business.

Considering how invaders captured people and sold them in Ireland, Europe, and even to the Mediterranean and Muslim lands, what a wild mixture the European gene pool must have become!

So how did the people of the British Isles cope with all of this? Letting my imagination run, I ask, “Where did they hide when the long ships appeared in the Solway Firth? Did they find caves in the hills? Did they hide themselves in a ditch or pit?

I can’t imagine how they coped emotionally, seeing their defenders –husbands and sons– slaughtered, their homes and churches plundered, their children and youths carried off to be sold as slaves? I must admit that whatever troubles this Corona virus invasion has brought to our world, I still live in a very safe place.

Danish invaders started moving inland, settling, and eventually controlled what are now the shires of Derby, Leichester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. One historian takes a generous view of the Danes’ arrival. While he mentions the continuing Viking raids along the coasts, he feels England not only gained a richer genetic heritage, but being under Danish rule helped make England a sea-faring nation. Perhaps, but I doubt folks living through those days saw things that way.

Do you think maybe two hundred years from now some historian will write about our era and say how the Corona virus was good for us, it brought about this and that? Being smack in the middle of the menace, though, we’re not seeing it in such an open-minded way. I’ll just be glad when this virus is history – and we can ditch these masks.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning: DITCH

Snapshots of Today

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is ABUNDANCE

Well, we have an abundance of snow, with more coming this evening. We may soon have an abundance of ice. We do have an abundance of fluctuation these days.

Yesterday morning the thermometer read -30 C. At 7:30 am this morning it read 1 C. Plus 1, that is. We had Sewing Day at church yesterday and one lady asked if an abrupt change in temp had any noticeable effect on a person’s body. Another woman replied that when the temp changes so drastically, she gets a headache. She’ll need a Tylenol today for sure.

The topic of designer fashions came up, and the question, “Does anyone actually ever wear the designer fashions you see on European runways?” Maybe, but I’m inclined to think fashion designers make their mark with the very edgy, then can put their name on more practical clothing and it sells because of the name. Or what do you think?

I had cause this morning to think about avant-garde trends and looked the term up in the dictionary, which led me to the word intelligentsia, because they are considered avante-garde. Merriam-Webster defines the avant-garde as “Intelligentsia that develops new or experimental concepts especially in the arts.” INTELLIGENTSIA are “Intellectuals who form an artistic, social, or political vanguard or elite.” The trouble is, be it fashion, political, social or artistic, TRENDY tends to walk so close to the edge of SILLY that it often slips over. 😉

Here’s my haiku on the subject:
cutting edge
the farthest
out to lunch

This morning I was reading some haiku verses and found them disappointingly avant-garde. In my opinion. I’m not a connoisseur, not really a fan of, “The verse can mean whatever you wish it to mean.” Then I checked out another online haiku journal and found quite a few verses that, though brief, are clear and make sense.

kudzu vine loving fiercely
can make perfect sense to you if you know how kudzu vines entwine around a tree and often smother their host. Would you call this a terse verse? Or a verse of any kind?

I’ve gotten the urge to work on my manuscript again and feel like I need to nail terse, one current trend in writing, so I was up late last night reading James Patterson. That writer and his ghosts have terse to a science. Not my genre at all, but I borrowed a couple of his books, one about the Kennedy clan, from my online library and read a bit from each. Here’s hoping the style will rub off.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on trends, avant-garde, micro-poetry, and terse stories. Please share them in a comment below.

Funny — Or Cruel?

One day the Daily Prompt asked what tricks someone could play on me that would truly scare me. It shouldn’t be hard, as I’m a timid sort and easily frightened. (My reason for avoiding heart-stopping suspense and horror stories.) But what pleasure would it give someone to know they’d terrified me? Is that not cruelty?

My mind goes back to something my husband’s distant cousin, another Bob, told his teenage son one day. “If you’re going to pull a prank, use your brain. Don’t do something stupid that you’re going to be embarrassed about later. Do something you’ll be proud of. Something unique or spectacular.”

He explained that when he was in his teens a group of guys had gotten together one night and dismantled some piece of equipment — or an old car? — and carried it piece by piece up to the top of a prominent building. There they’d reassembled it so that in the morning everyone passing by could see this bizarre object sitting on the roof. Now that was a novelty people chuckled over for a good while after.

My husband remembers that when he was a boy an old wagon appeared, through similar circumstances, on top to the town hall in Craik, SK one Nov 1st. Seeing it there gave local folks a chuckle, but no one was terrified or injured.

Though I’m not a fan of tricks, I believe Cousin Bob had a point. Some young folks think it’s fun to destroy things. Why? Does some anger in their own heart seek an outlet in being nasty to others? Often they choose the most helpless as their victims, someone who can’t retaliate. They don’t want to risk someone bigger and stronger catching up with them and punishing them for their misdeeds.

One young man talked of how his uncle would tickle him and his brothers when they were boys — and keep on until they were in tears and screaming. Uncle called it fun; his nephews called it a kind of torture and avoided him whenever they could. “Funny” that humiliates or hurts someone or some creature is a very perverted humor.

Some Types of Folly

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was FOLLY

Merriam-Webster defines folly as a lack of good sense or normal prudence and foresight, a foolish act or idea, or an excessively costly or unprofitable undertaking.

Some acts of folly bring a chuckle to those who hear of it. Like the young man who thought he’d rob a local pharmacy and get away with drugs — and hopefully some cash. He attempted to gain entrance to the building after the store closed Saturday evening by crawling in through an air vent — but he got stuck. A unique way to spend the weekend! When employees opened the store Monday morning they heard him calling for help, and called the police.

There’s bureaucratic folly. I considered it a bit of folly on my government’s part when they sent me not just one, but TWO letters telling me they’d overpaid me (in my pension) by $1.40 and that I should pay it back by cheque ASAP or they would “deduct the entire sum from your next pension cheque.”

I guess the notice was computer-generated; no human looked at it and said, “You know, it’s going to cost $1 for the stamp to send her this. And logically, is she going to spend $1 for a stamp and whatever for the cheque fee to pay us back? Will she suffer that much hardship if she gets $1.40 less on next month’s cheque? Should we just file this?”

Which is what I did with it. Common sense should prevail, don’t you think?

Today my thinking went to a different kind of folly. We each have one of our own, perhaps? I’m a pack rat. Would you call that a type of folly?

When we moved my mother-in-law in with us over twenty years ago, I inherited a lot of her smaller things, like the handcrafted item she’d made over the years. Mom crocheted and embroidered card table cloths, made doilies, etc., and I’ve kept these stored away, wanting to keep them nice. Thinking someday to pass them on to the grand-daughters.

But what happens to things stored away? They may fade, the fabric threads weaken along fold lines, creases form that never can be ironed out. Fabrics get musty; elastic may disintegrate as soon as it’s stretched, after being stored for years. So many stored things get damaged by smoke, storm, or insects. And then, when you go to pass them on, you realize that the younger generation has no memory of the great-grands who made those things. Mom’s things are precious to me because I knew and loved Mom.

Some things are worth storing and passing on as antiques, but I’ve realized it’s folly for me to store these things for years, seldom using and enjoying them myself for fear of stains or wear. Our children have more than enough things of their own to store.

Image by Annie Spratt — Unsplash

Shires and Such

Hello again. Here I am, sitting at my desk and working on my newly updated and fully functioning PC. Tra la la! But it wasn’t cheap. Anyway, I can access both my G-mail accounts now and the hard drive has had an upgrade that speeds it up a lot. So I’ve decided to give it a real test by posting tonight, something for my readers who love words and their etymology. I’ve been learning a few new ones myself.

I’ve been working my way through this book about the old Scottish and border kingdoms, from the earliest traceable Celtic people to the invading Roman legions, marauding Britons, Saxons, Jutes, Angles. There’s a lot of military history detailing all the cross-border warfare that went on amongst the kingdoms of northern England and all these invaders. I learned that Wales isn’t at all the local name; and they don’t refer to the rest of England as such. The Welsh word for England means “the lost lands.” With good reason!

He mentions well known figures like the victorious Authur — Moffat thinks he was a general rather than a king — and Merlin. He gives highlights of better-known Northumbrian rulers like Aedan, Aethelfrith, Edwin, Owen. He also details the expansion of the Catholic church in England. Thankfully the ancients weren’t illiterate and a few of them, such as the priest Bede, did set down the facts they’d seen or heard, so that a rough picture can be drawn.

The Faded Map: Lost Kingdoms of Scotland by [Alistair Moffat]
This author has done a thorough research on his subject.

As I read, I learned the origin of the word SHERIFF. This was once two words: SHIRE REEVEthe administrator of a royal shire. According to Lexico the Old English word scirgerefa. is composed of the Old English scīr ;‘care, official charge, county’, Germanic in origin, and the OE refa. In English and Welsh counties, the SHERIFF is the chief executive officer of the Crown, having various administrative and judicial functions. Some English towns still have a SHERIFF, an honorary officer elected annually. In Scotland a SHERIFF is a judge.

Another thing I learned concerns the area where my ancestors came from: Penninghame in Gallowayshire. Ham is the old English word for home, the “ing” denoting beside. So Penninghame are the homes beside the Penn. If I knew the topography of southwest Scotland I’d know what that means. 🙂 And nearby KIRKCUDBRIGHT is named after St Cuthbert, famous missionary-monk and later leader of the early Northumbrian Church. Kirk is church, so, Saint Cuthbert’s Church. You need to hear a local pronounce the district name, Kirkcudbrightshire — I’ve been told it doesn’t sound anything like it’s spelled. 🙂

And that’s enough meandering in the murk of word origins. It’s great to be back at my old desk, though. Take care everyone.

This Week Chez Nous

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve been having a good week? The past couple of days haven’t been so great at our house, what with a pain in the arm as well as severe pain in the wallet and chaos in the office. Hopefully we’ll recover; my arm injected with the Covid booster (Moderna) on Monday, is already improved, but it was very sore yesterday. I felt light headed, listless, and had several long naps; hopefully the effects have worn off and I can resume normal life now.

I wasn’t hearing the latest news, but Bob was telling me that the Premier of Quebec just announced there will be a tax levied on residents who have declined to be immunized, since these folks are giving half the cases straining provincial hospitals now. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” I guess?

I cooked dinner for the residents at the Villa on Sunday, inviting two couples to join us and the residents. (For those of you who know folks here, they were Wendel & Heather and their four sons — Heather brought dessert & corn — and Ben & Lucille.) Usually when families are invited for Sunday dinner at the Villa, they bring some part of the meal, which is very helpful for the cook!

Monday we up-heaved the office some when I took my PC to the computer doctor in Outlook before going for my booster shot. Remember the old expression, “slow as molasses in January”? I’d turn it on and wait and wait! So it needs an upgrade, and the repair man is also fixing a few programs that don’t work. It will be great to have my mail G-mail account accessible again, but I may probably cry when I get his bill. I’m still whimpering over yesterday’s shell-out.

Yesterday, while I was taking life easy at home, Bob went to the city. Among other things, he got a replacement for the key I lost last week. Beware, everyone. These high-tech keys may be small things, but a replacement costs plenty — in the neighbourhood of $700 CDN!

Worth their weight in gold?

When he got home from the city a package had come in the mail: a mounting bracket for his monitor. Now he can adjust the height. However, to install this, he had to empty and remove a shelving unit that sat along the back of his desk, which means the office is in chaos this morning. (One used shelving unit for sale. What offers?) Chaos can actually be good in the long run, seeing how things never used can so easily get stored away and become part of the decor until you have to move them for some reason.

Our “severe cold spell” is past and we’re into a “severe” mild spell now, though I doubt the weatherman would ever call it that. The temp went above freezing yesterday; it’s -4 now at 10 am; the ice has melted off our windows. Out cats are acting rather squirrelly and are eager to go outside. Stepping outside now, it feels like spring — but we’re not deceived 🙂