Lavender Wands

The wand is made by weaving a ribbon over and under adjacent stalks, so you must use an odd number of stalks. (I suggest using 13). Harvest only the most robust and straight flower stalks.

• 6 feet 1/4-inch satin ribbon
• 13 stalks fresh, straight, long-stemmed lavender
• Heavy thread
• Clippers
• Scissors

1. Align the flower heads and wrap the thread tightly below the flowers, including one end of the ribbon. Knot the thread and trim the ends; leave 1/4 inch tail of the ribbon.

2. Turn the wand so the flowers point downward. One at a time, bend the stalks over the thread. (Pressing your thumbnail into the stalk above the thread as you bend it prevents breakage if the stalks have dried out a little.) Space stalks evenly like the spines of an umbrella.

3. Bring the ribbon to the outside of the umbrella and begin to weave over and under adjacent stalks. As you weave, pull on the ribbon fairly hard and make sure the flowers inside are covered. As the pulling causes the stalks to twist, realign them after weaving three rounds so they are once again straight and evenly spaced. Repeat this step if necessary after the sixth round.

4. After weaving beyond the flower heads, form a handle by weaving the ribbon tightly for 4 to 5 inches. Tie it off in a bow. After the wand dries, reweave the ribbon on the now shrunken handle and retie the bow.

Source: Mother Earth Living

Dante Alighieri, canto 1, The Divine Comedy

“Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

mi ritrovai per una selva oscura

ché la diritta via era smarrita.”

“When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,

I found myself within a shadowed forest,

for I had lost the path that does not stray.”

~ Dante Alighieri, canto 1, The Divine Comedy

Image: Paul Gustave Louis Christophe Doré from “The Vision of Hell.”

Viking Runes Introduction

By the beginning of the Viking Age, the Scandinavian rune-masters had developed an alphabet, or “futhark” (from the value of the first six characters), of sixteen characters that was quite distinct from the rest of the Germanic peoples. This alphabet was known as the “younger futhark”.

However, even within Scandinavia, there was no standard form for the characters and there are variations from inscription to inscription, but basically there were two main forms of futhark: the Common or Danish futhark (although it occurs outside of Denmark), and the Swedo-Norwegian futhark (although this also occurs outside of Sweden and Norway.

One can see that there are shortcomings with these alphabets. For example, there are characters for b, k and t, but there are none for p, g and d (this is because the futhark does not distinguish between these voiced and voiceless pairs. Therefore the rune-master had to use b for p, k for g and t for d.

There were other peculiarities: although there were two characters for the two different types of a, there were no symbols for e and o. This meant that the name “Svein” appears as in runes “suin” and the name “Gormr” appears as “kurmR”.

It becomes even more complicated, as the spelling practice allowed n to be omitted when it occurred before a consonant. Therefore the name Thormundr appears as thurmutR.

This of course means that many runic inscriptions can be very difficult to read and there can be a great deal of dispute about their true meaning.

Despite the difficulties in reading runic inscriptions, they can provide a good deal of useful information.

Source: Swedish National Museum Heritage Board’s website, but that page no longer exists.

Herring, Potato, Red Onion, and Egg Open Sandwich

4–5 new potatoes

2 eggs

3 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp chopped herbs (such as dill, parsley, chives)

2 slices of sourdough bread

½ jar pickled herring, drained (approx. 4oz)

½ red onion, very finely diced

small handful of chives, roughly chopped, to garnish

Boil the potatoes until just tender, about 20 minutes. Leave until cool enough to handle, then slice thickly.

Boil the eggs for about 8 minutes, until relatively hard boiled. Leave to cool, then peel and slice.

Mix the mayonnaise with the mustard, chopped herbs and a little seasoning. Spread over the sourdough bread slices, then arrange a layer of potato over the top. Add the egg, herring and finely chopped onion and garnish with a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Dr. William Price

Today in weird history —> On January 18, 1884 Dr. William Price attempts to cremate the body of his infant son, Jesus Christ Price, setting a legal precedent for cremation in the United Kingdom. Price, a Welshman, was an interesting character in many ways. He adopted the Druid “religion” for many years; here he is onstage in 1884 wearing Druidic attire. At the time he cremated his infant son, cremation was illegal in England, but his action helped change the law…

#WeirdHistory #WilliamPrice #Cremation #Druid

The Euphronios Krater

Today in Museum History —> On this day in 2008 – The Euphronios Krater is unveiled in Rome after being returned to Italy by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here’s a picture of that beautiful Greek vase, created by Euphronios about 515 B.C.

The Euphronios Krater (or Sarpedon Krater) is an ancient Greek terra cotta calyx-krater, a bowl used for mixing wine with water. Created around the year 515 BC, it is the only complete example of the surviving 27 vases painted by the renowned Euphronios and is considered one of the finest Greek vase artifacts in existence. Part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 to 2008, the vase was repatriated to Italy under an agreement negotiated in February 2006, and it is now in the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri as part of a strategy of returning stolen works of art to their place of origin

Most Nobel Prize for Literature Winners

Q: What country has produced the most Nobel Prize for Literature winners?

A: France (15 received, 1 declined)

1. Patrick Modiano, Literature, 2014

2. J. M. G. Le Clézio, Literature, 2008

3. Gao Xingjian, born in China, Literature, 2000

4. Claude Simon, Literature, 1985

5. Jean-Paul Sartre, (declined the prize), Literature, 1964

6. Saint-John Perse, Literature, 1960

7. Albert Camus, born in French Algeria, Literature, 1957

8. François Mauriac, Literature, 1952

9. André Gide, Literature, 1947

10. Roger Martin du Gard, Literature, 1937

11. Ivan Bunin, born in Russia, Literature, 1933

12. Henri Bergson, Literature, 1927

13. Anatole France, Literature, 1921

14. Romain Rolland, Literature, 1915

15. Frédéric Mistral, Literature, 1904

16. Sully Prudhomme, Literature, 1901

Who Were The Norse?

“The term ‘Norse’ is used to describe the various peoples of Scandinavia who spoke the Old Norse language between the eighth and thirteenth centuries AD. While it had eastern and western dialects it would have been generally mutually understood across the range of areas within which it was spoken. A third recognisable form was spoken on the island of Gotland.

The Old Norse language later developed into modern Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish. In addition, there once existed the so-called Norn languages of Orkney and Shetland that are now extinct. It was, essentially, the language of the Vikings.”

~ Martyn Whittock, from Tales of Valhalla

Skyr

  • 1 gallon non-fat milk, pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized)but not homogenized
  • 1 (5 1/2-ounce) container Siggi’s plain or vanilla skyr*
  • 7 drops liquid animal rennet, or 4 drops liquid vegetable rennet
  • 1/4 cup warm, non-chlorinated water
  • A reliable digital thermometer
  • A fine-mesh nylon vegetable bag or cheesecloth for draining the curds

* Available at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Haggen’s and specialty food stores. Skyr was introduced to America in 2005 by enterprising Icelandic expatriate Siggi Hlmarsson under the brand name of “Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr.”

Skyr—pronounced “skeer”—is a traditional Icelandic “yogurt” that has been made since the 9th century Viking era. It is technically classified as a cheese because it contains rennet, a substance used in curdling milk when making cheese, but is considered a yogurt because of its structure and texture.

Bring the milk to the scalding point.  Pour the milk in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring the milk to a slow and steady simmer over a medium-high burner, heating it until it reaches the scalding point, which is between 185 and 190 F; this should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent scalding.

If toward the very end of the heating process you notice that the milk at the bottom of the pot has begun to scald (seems like it is starting to stick), reduce the heat to medium-low, and stop stirring. A small bit of scalding is okay, but you don’t want to release the scalded bits into the mixture.

Turn the burner off immediately when the milk reaches the scalding point. Remove the pot from the burner and allow it to cool to 110 F.

Scoop out the container of skyr into a bowl. Once the milk has cooled down, combine 1 cup of the cooled milk with the skyr, then return the mixture to the pot, stirring to incorporate.

Next, whisk the liquid rennet into the warm water, then stir this mixture immediately into the milk (the rennet will lose its effectiveness if prepared more than 30 minutes before using).

Cover the pot with a thick towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot, such as the oven (not turned on) or an insulated cooler, for 12 hours.

The curds should have separated from the whey overnight—what you need to create the skyr are just the curds. Spoon the curds into a fine-meshed bag or a double-layer of cheesecloth. Suspend the bag over a dripping tray in a cool room, or place the bag over a colander set over a bowl in the refrigerator, and allow the remaining whey to drain until the skyr is thick.

Your skyr will keep for three or four weeks, covered, in the refrigerator. To serve as breakfast or a snack, top with milk, fresh berries, and sugar or honey to taste.