Book Review: Hark! A Vagrant

Hark! A Vagrant – Kate Beaton10767466Hark! A Vagrant is an uproarious romp through history and literature seen through the sharp, contemporary lens of New Yorker cartoonist and comics-sensation Kate Beaton. No era or tome emerges unscathed as Beaton rightly skewers the Western world’s revolutionaries, leaders, sycophants, and suffragists while equally honing her wit on the hapless heroes, heroines, and villains of the best-loved fiction.

If you have not yet been exposed to harkavagrant.com then I can only surmise that all the time you’ve spent on the Internet to date has been a waste. Go check it out, immediately!650x375_tumblr_lejx1us30V1qa0q13o1_500

Beaton’s book Hark! A Vagrant, is a compilation of comics from the site with some book-exclusive comics tossed in to the mix. I love that Beaton is a Canadian and uses several references of Canadian history, and jokes throughout her comics. It is refreshing to see Canadian culture explored, even comically!

Beaton is one of the best new comics, her art and storylines are witty smart, and true to her style a bit vulgar. This collection is hilarious, and is the sort of book you can turn to when you a need a pick-me-up. Beaton’s craziness will have you laughing in hysterics. Part of her appeal is combining modern day slang, with bold literary references such as the Bronte’s and Nancy Drew.

Hark! An excellent book.

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Valentine’s Day Cards Traditions

VintageValentines
The first Valentine’s cards were sent in the 18th century. Initially these were handmade efforts, as pre-made cards were not yet available.

Lovers would decorate paper with romantic symbols including flowers and love knots, often including puzzles and lines of poetry. Those who were less inspired could buy volumes that offered guidance on selecting the appropriate words and images to woo their lover. These cards were then slipped secretly under a door, or tied to a door-knocker.

VintageValentines

It was in Georgian Britain that pre-printed cards first began to appear, though these were not yet as popular as they were eventually to become. Perhaps the oldest surviving example dates from 1797: this card, held at York Castle Museum, was sent by one Catherine Mossday to a Mr Brown of London. It is decorated with flowers and images of Cupid, with a verse printed around the border reading:

Since on this ever Happy day,
All Nature’s full of Love and Play
Yet harmless still if my design,
‘Tis but to be your Valentine.

Victorian Valentines
The industrialisation of Britain in the early 19th-century brought with it rapid advances in printing and manufacturing technologies. It became easier than ever to mass-produce Valentine’s cards, which soon became immensely popular.

It is estimated that by the mid 1820s, some 200,000 Valentines were circulated in London alone.

The introduction of the Uniform Penny Post [a component of the comprehensive reform of the Royal Mail, the UK’s official postal service, that took place in the 19th century] in 1840 bolstered the popularity of Valentine’s cards yet further: reports suggest that by the late 1840s the amount of cards being circulated doubled, doubling once again in the next two decades.
vintagevalentine
Many Victorian Valentine’s cards survive, but most intriguing is a collection of more than 1,700 examples that is held at the Museum of London. This is the archive of the stationer Jonathan King, who ran a card-making enterprise in London. This collection, which has been digitised, demonstrates the huge array of designs, verses and sentiments that were popular with lovers in Victorian Britain. Cards tended to feature elaborate paper lacework, embossing and other intricate designs.

The more expensive the card, the more elaborate the design would be. This meant it would be obvious how much your lover had spent on a card! Typical imagery included flowers, love knots and Cupid. Though hearts were sometimes used, Victorian cards did not feature the ubiquitous red hearts that are so typical of Valentine’s cards today.

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A Brief History of Valentine’s Day Greetings

ValentineHistoryOrigins of Valentine’s Day

From 13 to 15 February, ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. Many believe that the origins of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to this ancient fertility festival. To mark the occasion Roman men sacrificed goats before using their skins to whip women in the belief that this would make them fertile. Some historians have argued that at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I declared 14 February to be Valentine’s Day in an attempt to reclaim this festival from the Romans and Christianise it.

It’s not clear which St Valentine this day was initially dedicated to, as two saints with this name share the feast day of 14 February. Both of these saints were martyred in Rome; Valentine of Terni in around AD 197 and Valentine of Rome in around AD 496.

St-Valentine

Many legends have been recorded about the latter St Valentine, but these are most likely apocryphal. These include the story that Valentine himself fell in love with his jailor’s daughter while incarcerated for giving aid to prisoners. According to this tale, St Valentine wrote his inamorata a note signed “from your Valentine”: the first Valentine’s greeting. However, while this fanciful story is compelling, it is unlikely to be true.

The next milestone in the history of Valentine’s Day came in 1382, when Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his poem Parlement of Foules. This poem contains what is widely reported to be the first recorded instance of St Valentine’s Day being linked to romantic love. This reference can be found in the lines:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery foul comyth there to chese his make.

Not everyone agrees that Chaucer was referring to 14 February here, however. Some have argued that he was instead talking of May time, when birds are more likely to mate in England. This coincides with the feast of St Valentine of Genoa, which also falls in May. Nevertheless, the story of Chaucer’s connection with Valentine’s Day is often repeated.

The First Valentine’s Greetings

In 15th-century France, 14 February became an annual feast day celebrating romantic love. Lavish banquets with singing and dancing were held to mark the occasion. It was also a 15th-century Frenchman who committed the earliest surviving Valentine’s greeting to paper. While imprisoned in the Tower of London following the 1415 battle of Agincourt, the Duke of Orleans wrote to his wife:

Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée

This translates roughly as, “I am already sick of love, my very gentle Valentine”. This remarkable letter survives in the manuscript collections of the British Library, which also holds the oldest surviving Valentine’s letter in the English language. This dates from 1477 and was sent by one Margery Brews to her fiancé John Paston. In this letter Margery describes John as her “right well-beloved Valentine”.

ValentinesHistory

By the 17th century Valentine’s Day gets a mention in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, when Ophelia is given the lines:

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,

And I a maid at your window,

To be your Valentine.

However, it was in the 18th century that the most familiar Valentine’s poem made its first appearance. These lines, found in a collection of nursery rhymes printed in 1784, read:

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.

While this was the first appearance of the poem in this form, its origins reach back to Sir Edmund Spenser’s 1590s epic, The Faerie Queene. This featured the lines:

She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

Check out this article for an interesting exploration of the darker roots of Valentine’s.

lupercaliadarkvalentines

Dark Roots of Valentines Day

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Travel Alberta: Banff + Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival

canadatravelJanuary 18 – 28, 2018

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Ice Magic Festival

It’s called the Ice Magic Festival, and it has been enchanting people around the world for years. This year was no different.

The ice sculpting competition, held picturesque Lake Louise, draws top-tier ice artists and spectators each year to Alberta’s Rockies.

Lake Louise shared world-class talents displays from January 18 – 28 for an annual Ice Carving Competition at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. With the temperatures dropping and the snow falling – Lake Louise was like a real life snowglobe. Winter is the perfect time to travel to the Rockies. Everything is is quiet, encased in beautiful snow.

The International Ice Carving Competition is the highlight event at the Ice Magic Festival where ice carvers work to sculpt towering one-of-a-kind works of art from 300lb blocks of solid ice over a grueling 34 hours. Visitors to the festival were able to skate on Lake Louise, take photos inside an ice castle and indulge in the beautiful sights of nature when she has gone still.

Banff SnowDays

The annual SnowDays celebration is a highlight of the winter season in Banff National Park; a free 11-day long event held during January, centered around massive snow sculptures in downtown Banff.

Occurring at the same time as the Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise, you’ll have plenty of winter creations to explore throughout the park. Winter in Banff is something to experience. The ice festival, is simply the icing on the cake 🙂

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Poetry: Miracles

poetry

For Ryan

Miracles

You’re long dead
Buried in the earth

I was too consumed
In my mire of misery
To realize

You’ve been here all along
You never left

It had been me

You’ve been here all along
The scattered whispers in a crowded room
The fleeting feeling of summer
The sound of raindrops falling

The hushed whisper in the wind
The laughter ringing in my ears

You’ve been everywhere
In places I refused to look

The sweet voice
Of a boy long since dead
Carries in the wind
Of a world he never existed in

Miracles occurred
When my back was crouched in darkness
Blinded by sadness

You’re still here
Our connection never died

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Wheel of the Year: Imbolc Celebrations

imbolc

Imbolc or Imbolg, also called Brigid’s Day, is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1/2 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

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It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. (‘Spring cleaning was originally a nature ritual’ – Doreen Valiente). It’s a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.

Imbolc-Ireland

Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft. She is a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. She is the Triple Goddess, but at Imbolc she is in her Maiden aspect.

 

Colors of Imbolc: White, Pink, Red, Yellow, lt. Green, Brown. Stones of Imbolc: Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, Turquoise.

 

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Book Review: Loved (House of Night Otherworld #1) by P.C Cast & Kristin Cast

WinterReads

Loved by P.C Cast & Kristin Cast

loved by p.c cast

Published: July 11th 2017 by Blackstone Publishing, 291 Pages

Synopsis

The bestselling series has returned! Join P.C. and Kristin Cast in celebrating the tenth anniversary of the House of Night series by going on a thrilling new adventure with your beloved Nerd Herd.

It’s Zoey’s eighteenth birthmas and the Nerd Herd has been scattered across the country busily adulting for almost a year when Stark calls them back to Tulsa to surprise Z. But all is not well in T-town. Strange, dark signs are appearing—could it be possible Neferet is stirring? Not willing to chance disaster striking again, Zoey calls on her newly reunited friends to circle with her and add a layer of protection over Neferet’s grotto jail. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong. Nothing at the House of Night is ever as it seems.

With rabid red vampyres closing in, Zoey and the Nerd Herd must come together again and battle evil. But a year is a long time. Have these old friends grown too far apart?

When the world fractures and allies become enemies, will darkness devour friendships or will light save those she’s loved?

Review

I LOVED being in this world again. I can’t properly express how excited I was to learn of a new HoN story! I even spelled this sentence incorrectly the first time around – that’s the level of excitement.

This entry had a very ‘adult’ feel. Not as in adult content, just as in how our beloved characters have grown. I did a re-read of the first book in the HoN series straight after this book and it was so interesting to see exactly how much the characters have grown and how far the story has taken them.

I can’t recommend this series enough. I wholeheartedly believe there is something in it for everyone. So beautifully detailed, they truly take you into the world that is the House of Night. It feels like you grow & experience everything with the characters, the good as well as the bad. You laugh, smile, & cry!

 

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