Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Not be silly?

Today I am back at work after a lovely Thanksgiving holiday, with family, with friends, and on my own, starting to get ready for December. But, it is still November, as Thanksgiving came early this year. I don't see the crucial need to decorate the house yet, but I did take down the festive Fall golden decor. The house is now plain, in anticipation of Christmas.

Thanksgiving dinner with friends was delightful, with tasty food and good conversation. As the evening progressed, we watched football, then Nadia G's Bitchin Kitchen, and then spent a bit of time looking at funny on-line videos from Saturday Night Live. I must admit, some were so funny, I could hardly stand it. We laughed our heads off, and it felt good to be a bit silly.

Sometimes we think that historic figures were always serious and reserve, but not my dear friend Mozart. He loved a good laugh, some mischief and some baudy humor. It's nice to know that these people were REAL. That they liked a good time, a chance to let go, kick back. Mozart certainly enjoyed silliness. He played with words, which is common with highly-intelligent people. It becomes an outlet.

See below his November letter to his favorite cousin Maria Anna. She was a recipient of some of his flirtatious, racous humor. And, don't forget to enjoy a good laugh now and again.

Manheim, November 5, 1777
Dearest cozz buzz!
I'm asking you, why not? - I'm asking you, dearest numbskull, why not? - if you are writing anyway to Madame Tavernier in Munich, please include regards from me to the Mademoiselles Freysinger, why not? - Curious! Why not? - and to the Younger, I mean Frauline Josepha, tell her I'll send my sincere apologies, why not? - why should I not apologize? - Curious! - I don't know why not? - I want to apologize that I have not yet sent her the sonata that I promised, but I will send it as soon as possible, why not? - what - why not? - why shouldn't I send it? - why should I not transmit it? - why not? Curious! I wouldn't know why not? - well, then you'll do me this favor; - why not? Why shouldn't you do it for me? Why not, it's so strange! After all, I'll do it for you, too, if you want me to, why not? - why shouldn't I do it for you? - curious! Why not? - I wouldn't know why not?
And now I must close and that makes me morose....Now farewell, I kiss you 10000 times and I remain as always your
Old young Sauschwanz,
Wolfgang Amadé Rosenkranz             

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Proclamation!

Here's an interesting bit! In October 1780, US Congress proclaimed a day set aside for Thanksgiving, recommending to set apart a Thursday (in December at that time), for people to take time to be thankful for blessing, to comfort the sick or those in need, to spread the word of God "over all the earth".  See the Proclamation below:

A PROCLAMATION by the United States in Congress assembly:

Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, amidst the vicissitudes and calamities of war, to bestow blessings on the people of these states, which call for their devout and thankful acknowledgments, more especially in the late remarkable interposition of his watchful providence, in rescuing the person of our Commander in Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution; in prospering the labors of the husbandmen, and causing the earth to yield its increase in plentiful harvests; and, above all, in continuing to us the enjoyment of the gospel of peace;

It is therefore recommended to the several states to set apart Thursday, the seventh day of December next, to be observed as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer; that all the people may assemble on that day to celebrate the praises of our Divine Benefactor; to confess our unworthiness of the least of his favors, and to offer our fervent supplications to the God of all grace; that it may please him to pardon our heinous transgressions and incline our hearts for the future to keep all his laws that it may please him still to afford us the blessing of health; to comfort and relieve our brethren who are any wise afflicted or distressed; to smile upon our husbandry and trade and establish the work of our hands; to direct our public councils, and lead our forces, by land and sea, to victory; to take our illustrious ally under his special protection, and favor our joint councils and exertions for the establishment of speedy and permanent peace; to cherish all schools and seminaries of education, build up his churches in their most holy faith and to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.

Done in Congress, the last day of October, 1780, and in the fifth year of the independence of the United States of America.
I thought this was a nice thing to think about, especially when our 21st Century Thanksgiving Day and the long weekend that follows has turned into a greedy shopping fest, with people waiting in lines from midnight to force their way into stores to get the first fruits of the holiday gift-giving season. It's terrible! And worse yet, this year stores are opening on Thanksgiving evening, so that you can rush out after turkey dinner to a better banquet - the big box store!
It saddens me when all our American family traditions are going by the wayside in favor of making the almighty dollar. I certainly want the economy to improve, and I am a capitalist, but I still like to reserve some special days for family, friends and the Good Lord, to say thank you for all we do have, and to ask Him to remember those of us in need.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Renaissance, The Enlightenment and a Search for Knowledge

I often wonder why I have certain obsessions about particular eras and people through history. As if they call to me. As if perhaps I was there! Past lives and all. When this happens, I want to devour all the information I can find.

As much as I relate to the 18th Century, The Age of Enlightenment (or Reason), I also gravitate toward The Renaissance, particularly in England. The beginning of the Renaissance in England is often marked at 1485, with the Battle of Bosworth Field, ending the famous War of the Roses, and the introduction of the Tudor Dynasty. Though this movement formed more slowly in England, probably because of England's location away from the Continent, by the time of Elizabeth I, it was in full flower.

Interestingly enough, The Renaissance, or "The Rebirth", and The Enlightenment, or "Age of Reason", are similar in many ways. Both heralded major changes in art, culture, philosophy, science and mathmatics. But the Renaissance is more closely tied with advances in literature, architecture and of Humanism (Humanism marking the genius of man, and the remarkable ability of the human mind). One of the greatest Humanists was Sir Thomas More, at right, concerned with the law, faith and principle. Another famous Renaissance man, is William Shakespeare, poet and playwright, whose genius brought us the ability to look at man and man's common themes of  triumphs and frailties through comedy, tragedy and historic figures. No matter how much time passes, man is man, and his approach to love, friendship, problems, revenge, is nevertheless, the same.

The Age of Enlightenment is more concerned with science, industrialization, astronomy, rationality. The society in the 18th Century strived to assert the natural world as one giant, united machine to be disassembled, studied, and in turn, mastered. It was a more intellectual movement; the Renaissance more concerned with beauty, balance and harmony. And when I say beauty, I don't mean "pretty". There is a huge difference. An example of that kind of study and dissection, with regard to the human form, is shown below, by Leonardo Da Vinci, "The Vitruvian Man."

I read an interesting comparison of The Renaissance and The Enlightenment: "While The Renaissance was closely related to a search for the accumulation of past knowledge, The Enlightenment clearly involved a conscious effort to break with the past." Hence, it was an era of great exploration and invention, eventually giving birth to the Industrial Age.

An interesting fact: During the Age of Enlightenment, scientific knowledge began to be systematically categorized in ENCYCLOPEDIAS! Previously, dictionaries gave the general information in terms of understanding, but now the goal was to record all human knowledge in a comprehensive reference. The most well-known of this type of book was by Dennis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert's "Encyclopedie, ou dictionnaire raisonne des sciences, des arts et des metiers". Published in 1751, it was composed of thirty-five volumes and over 71,000 entries. By the 20th Century, information was being updated so as to require yearly publications of encyclopedias. Today these books can't keep up on a monthly basis, and so,...... the internet! But, I'm a bit "old"school". I still like to crack open a book and turn the actual page.




Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Cake

Well, all the hoopla of the election is now over. I'll admit, it took me a day to "get over" the results. Naturally, having voted for Romney, I was disappointed and a bit depressed, but today is, as Scarlett would remind us, "another day!"

I happened upon an interesting find regarding election celebrations during the 18th Century. The ELECTION CAKE! It sounded interesting so I spent some time looking into this delicacy. Also known as the "muster cake", it was used for large gatherings, as you can see from the list of ingredients below!

The recipe below is taken from Amelia Simmons' American Cookery, published in 1796:

Thirty quarts [38 lbs] flour, 10 pound butter, 14 pound sugar, 12 pound raisins, 3 doz eggs, one pint wine, one quart brandy, 4 ounces cinnamon, 4 ounces fine colander seed, 3 ounces ground allspice; wet the flour with milk to the consistence of bread over night, adding one quart yeast; the next morning work the butter and sugar together for half an hour, which will render the cake much lighter and whiter; when it has rise light work in every other ingredient except the plumbs [raisins], which work in when going into the oven.

You can see the original cookbook at left, but it has also been re-published and updated (below) if you are interested in recipes from back in the day!

Needless to say, I will not be making the cake any time soon, but I will keep it in mind for another day!




Tuesday, November 6, 2012

VOTING: The American Privilege!

Today is Election Day!

It is a day of great privilege for Americans, no matter what party or philosophy of government you may follow or promote. In my time, I have been, I will admit, a political junkie, and see the decreasing voter turnout disturbing. When candidates and their volunteers have to beg voters to come to the polls, it saddens me, as our Founding Fathers and those who fought and died for this country worked so hard to guarantee our right to a say in the development and movement of this Nation. With all its problems, the United States is still the best beacon of hope, freedom and opportunity in this world.

Politically speaking, I am a Conservative, and from time to time, I ask myself why? From the time I could first participate in the election process, I found myself leaning toward the Conservative philosophy. The underlying answer is that I do not believe in a government that enables dependence. I believe in a government that helps create and foster an environment where individuals can rise to whatever they aspires, can choose for themselves, unhampered by growing government regulation and restriction.

I believe in local or state government taking a lead in issues that concern their region. Who better to help their own, than those who see the problem close at hand?
I believe in the good will and kindness of people who live and work together at the local level. I have seen again and again that when someone needs a hand, multitudes of people show up to help. Charity begins at home, and I have never been disappointed in the generosity of Americans to help not only our own, but those in need across the globe. No one needs to be forced into a charitable endeavor. We always come through.

I hate when they label some Conservatives as being a "Compassionate Conservative", as if to say that Conservatives by nature are greedy bastards, indifferent to the plight of the underprivileged. I also hate when politicians pander to "women's issues". What....aren't women people, too? Or are they only going to cast their vote if someone is going to protect their reproductive organs?

The best scenario for the downtrodden is to give them the opportunity to help themselves. As the saying goes, if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime! I love that quote!

It is not to say that we do not need Federal assistance from time to time. After the Great Depression, FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) instituted many government programs to stimulate the economy, the so-called Alphabet Soup of programs to build roads, help the needy, etc etc. Nothing wrong with that, but when things were up and running again, in the prosperous 1950's, many of those programs should have been reduced or eliminated, so that business could once again run and flourish on its own. But, this did not happen, and eventually, more and more people began to depend upon those programs not only for assistance, but for a lifestyle. To me, this stifles creativity and vision.

And so, this year, I voted as early as I could, the first day of early voting. I voted for Governor Romney, and I hope tonight, as I watch the election returns, that I will not be disappointed. I think Romney is a good and decent man, and he has been successful in his business and personal life. I think he will reinvigorate the Nation. But I cast my vote mostly for the philosophy he represents.

And, no matter who takes away the prize this evening, I put my faith in our system of government, that we have the precious ability to have a say again another day. I never take this for granted.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Nomination for Blogging!

I was recently nominated for a blogging award by my friend over at  I am thrilled and want to thank her so very much for including me among some wonderful and much respected blogs! This blogging endeavor is really a labor of love, and so much goes into it, trying to bring interesting and different things to share with those of common interest, finding the right pictures to go with, having enough time to spend. It's nice to know that I have been acknowledged. I don't, at least to this point, get many comments back, but I do see through my "dashboard" that loads of people from many different places around the world do read my installments. It makes me very happy!

So, that being said, I must do the following:
A) Thank the one who nominated me! And, put the Versatile Blogger logo on this post. Done!

B) Tell 7 related things about me, so here goes:
1) Every now and then, I become obsessed with something, and then I must find out everything I can. This first time this happened to me was with the movie Amadeus. After seeing it, I had to know as much as I possibly could. Over the years I have bought countless CD's, purchased a book about Mozart each year to mark his birthday, a Mozart birthday bash for friends, though I have been remiss the past couple years. His birthday is January 27, and there's a bit of holiday burn out going on.
2) Obsession #2 - Master and Commander. There are 20 books total of the adventures of Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin, 18th Century British Naval History, of course. I have read 18 of the 20. They are outstanding reads, by Patrick O'Brian.
3) Obsession #3 - King Henry VIII. It began with The Tudors, Showtime mini-series. I visited Hampton Court this year - amazing. Now reading The Lives of Henry VII's Wives by historian David Starkey - totally informative, accurate.
4) On a different note, I love a good single-malt scotch, and try to find good selections to share with friends when the pocketbook allows. The Balvenie is a favorite. Their website is wonderful.
5) I have been playing guitar for over 15 years. Began with the blues (simple but addictive), on to jazz (intermediate), but have settled into classical Spanish or baroque pieces. They are intricate and keep me on my toes. With any musical instrument, playing is always "a work in progress". You are never finished, or have it down totally.
There is ALWAYS room for improvement.
6) I love the chance to wear a costume. Being Halloween season, it's an appropriate thing to say. But it's true. The inspiration, the planning, the getting it all together is exciting. Playing the part is a joy. I guess it's part of the artistic temperment.
7) Finally, I love to travel. I would be ready in a heart-beat to jump on a plane and go. Only work, and finances, of course, have something to say about getting down the suitcase at a moment's notice! Ha ha!

C) I'm supposed to nominate some blogs as well:
I know you're supposed to nominate about 15, but these are the ones I follow regularly.

Anyway, I again thank Dressed In Time for thinking of me, and all of you who follow me.
Gratefully yours,
Enlightened Age Blogger