Friday, December 27, 2013

A Thought for New Years!

Well, here we are at year end! 2013 has passed so very fast, and I have enjoyed researching and bringing "new" 18th Century finds to you. As the year comes to a close, I remember Scottish poet Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne. The song literally means "old long ago", and speaks of love and kindness of days gone by, and yet it also gives us a sense of fellowship to bring into the new year.
I leave you with a video that I think says it all as we celebrate 2014!
With love and happiness!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas to You!

I can hardly believe it, but tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I am looking forward to having a couple days away from the desk, to share the holiday with family and friends, who are my best and greatest gift. But, I leave you with a lovely excerpt from a poem by Sir Walter Scott, written in 1808, that I used for my Christmas card this year. It says a lot. The best part of Christmas is not the gifts, though we all like to have something under the tree with our name on it. The best of Christmas is Christ, and His coming to redeem us all. I send best wishes to you for Peace and Joy and the Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll'd,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all its hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night.
On Christmas eve the bells were rung,
On Christmas-eve the mass was sung;
That only night in all the year
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn'd her Kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress'd with holly green;
Then open'd wide the baron's hall,
To vassal -- tenant -- serf and all:
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And ceremony doff'd his pride.
All hail'd with uncontroll'd delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Pudding: A Good Thing

I really love Christmas steamed pudding. It screams the holidays! In fact, I was recently gifted one by a friend, and I am looking forward to using it, perhaps for Christmas Eve along with a good glass of scotch whiskey or a nice port, when midnight rolls around, and I open Christmas gifts. Yumm, and Yay!

I mean, I don't like it enough to paint my nails in tribute (though the nails at right are kind of cute, right?), or get out the knitting needles and make ornaments (though these look tempting), but it is a wonderful thing to have for Christmastime.

I found an interesting recipe for you here, Plum Pudding, from the Cookbook of Unknown Ladies, an 18th Century London publication. I like the spelling! Of course, nowadays, all the ingredients are measured out, but this is kind of fun. It's up to the individual cook to play with the recipe, and make it ones very own! Good luck!

Stone one pound of raisons. Add one pound of fresh suet, the yolks and whits of twelve eggs. Beat up very well. When that is don, put in the suet and one naggin of brandy and a nutmeg. Their must be a bout tow spoonfulls of fower mixed with the raisins and the must be put in the last. It well take at least four hours boyling. Their must be too spoonfull of brown sugar.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Major Merchandising v. Tiny Traditions

Christmas is fast approaching. Actually one week away. I was reading a bit about Christmas in the 18th Century in Colonial Williamsburg. It was truly quite a different holiday. Not much of a children's holiday even, (not until Victorian times and Queen Victoria).

In the 1700's, sometimes kids got a small gift, like a few coins, a special comb made of ivory or shell, a pair of gloves, maybe knit, maybe leather. Maybe a special candy or fruit. Oranges were very big back in the day, as they were expensive and not easily had. But small things that were useful or sweet or special were the order of the day.
Of course the colonists attended church, as first and foremost, it was a religious holiday. All the decorations were handmade of fruits and pinecones, and there was candlelight. Williamsburg still creates this ambience. Virginians did like a party though, they liked to dance and partake of a Christmas punch bowl. Ahhh! The focus was on Jesus, family and friends.

How different than the merchandising fest that our Lord's Nativity has become. I was in my local Target the other day to browse and get some wrapping supplies. I had the feeling that they are winding down Christmas. Things were on sale, or already being shoved off to the side. I can see Hearts and pink and red things looming any minute now. It's so the time December 25th comes, merchandisers are setting their caps on Valentine's Day.

I like tradition, and when Christmastime rolls around, I like to do all the things that remind me of Christmases past. Making fruitcake like my Mom and I used to do, bringing out my favorite ornaments for the tree (some gifts, some made when I was a kid). I like to put up my outdoor lights like my Dad and I used to do. I like to eat breakfast in the dark, with only the light from the decorated tree and mantle, and a couple candles here and there. I open my daily advent calendar. I've seen the pictures before, but I like to see them again.

Basically, the best joy comes in the little things! And so, I offer a planter's punch colonial recipe for you to try with family or friends or both. A toast of good cheer is a lovely small gift!

½ bottle (12 ounces) fresh lime or lemon juice
1 bottle sugar syrup (or 1¼ pounds of sugar)
1 ½ bottles rum
3 lbs ice and water
Mix all ingredients well. 
Decorate with fresh sliced fruit as desired.
Makes about 30  4-ounce glasses.    (Woah! that's a lot of lunch! But, you can adjust the amounts and get a reasonable bowl!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

In Praise of the Animals

Today I take the liberty of talking about St. Modestos, the patron saint of domestic animals. His feast day is today, and it's a chance to be kind to our furry friends that give us such joy, and ask so little of us but to be kind and gentle to them.

In the Orthodox Church, this is a day that holy water is prepared and there then ensues the blessing of the animals. Some churches mix the water into the feed of the cattle; most sprinkle the animals with the blessed water.  Special prayers are said, and the animals are given a day of rest.

St. Modestos is a third century saint, and viewed animals as sublime and mysterious, and a special gift from God. The special prayer states, "Blessed are you, O Lord, who for the sake of comfort give us domestic animals as companions," he said. "Let us bless the name of the Lord." The priest also says a selection from Genesis:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And God said: Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens. So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."

I wholeheartedly agree. It is a very good thing to have our dear pets around us. An abandoned kitty came my way a few years ago. I had an indoor kitty already, and so I had to keep this one outside. My apartment only allows one pet :(  Anyway, after my indoor cat suddenly passed away, in due course, Kitty came in .  I just love her! When I get up in the morning she is there, vocal, ready to greet. When I return home in the evening, she seems to say Welcome Home.
We have come to understand each other. She is grateful to be inside, making the most of it. I understand her subtle signals. She knows me too! She doesn't particularly like when I'm on the phone! She looks forward to "quality time" on the couch, in my lap, taking in a film or tv program.
It's a joy to have her there. In honor of her special day, I brushed her this morning, and I have a special gift for her when I get home this eve. Shreds of real chicken, and a fancy holiday collar!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Here's to Bourbon!

When Christmas rolls around, it's time for a Manhattan cocktail! There's just something about bourbon whiskey that reminds me of the holidays. It might be the smell; it might be the taste. Bourbon is always used to "embellish" fruitcake, which I love...not the kind described as a door stop, or brick, but the beautiful cake I know from my Mom's kitchen. No colored fruit here, but the wonderful assortment of raisins, dates, figs, orange and lemon peel, pecans or walnuts. Then aged to perfection! Yumm!

But the taste of a Manhattan conjures up holiday parties, presents glittering under the tree, friends gathered around a fireplace or at a festive table, the icy cold on one's face as one ventures out to shop!

So I looked up "bourbon" and found that, as a whiskey, it is a type of American whiskey, aged in barrels, made from primarily corn. Deriving its name from the French Bourbon dynasty, it has been produced since the 18th Century. This particular whiskey was not truly called "bourbon" until the 1870's in American, and interestingly enough, it was in 1964 that a resolution of the US Congress declared bourbon to be a "distinctive product of the US."

At left a painting of the French Bourbons! Can't you just picture them with low-ball glass in hand, enjoying their Manhattan, and if that little kid behaves herself, she just might be the recipient of the tasty, coveted Maraschino cherry! Ha Ha

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Knit One, Purl One

Knitting has become my new thing. It all started with purchasing some beautiful merino wool yarn on my trip to Edinburgh, but it was become a minor obsession lately. Oho! Watch out for those holiday gifts! Ha Ha

Anyway, I was looking up some info on 18th Century knitting, and found of course, that people knit everyday things, basics that everyone needs, every day. Like socks and stockings. From the mundane like the creamy-white ones shown here at left, in wool, or the ones below, quite lovely, in silk.

It wasn't like you went to the store and grabbed a pair. Same with hats, especially for sailors. They generally knit them for themselves. One interesting one is the little Monmouth cap, worn by sailors in the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries. It gets its name from the town of Monmouth in South East Wales. Its shape is basic, kind of bell-shaped, and mostly made of red yarn. Sometimes they turn up at the back. They were felted to produce a water-proofing effect. Sometimes a little loop is included which can be used to hang.
I guess the Monmouth will be nest on my knitting agenda!                               Go, Madame DeFarge!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Bountiful Heart

With Thanksgiving rolling around, I take a bit of time to reflect on what's considered the "traditional" Thanksgiving meal. We have in this current century elevated this holiday fare to gargantuan proportions. A reasonable meal just will not be considered. Something about abundance and the bountiful buffet, as it were.

Probably the Thanksgiving meal of the 18th Century was quite different. I'm sure the historic meal between the Colonists and the Indians was cause for celebration, but not to the extent of today's enormous spread.

The most common foods in the Colonies were corn, maple sugar and berries. Meals were planned around the workday, with the mid-day meal being the largest. Meats were generally roasted or dried, and there were pickled goods as well. A tasty treat was molasses, and cider or beer was offered. One-pot stews were also big, with various root vegetables added in. Of course, ground meal breads were made probably daily.

And so, I provide a recipe below for the good of the day, a simple "Indian pudding", a recipe from the American Cookery book, published in 1796. It includes "3 pints scaled milk, 7 spoons of fine Indian meal, stir together while hot, let stand till cooled; add 7 eggs, half pound of raisins, 4 ounces butter, spice and sugar; bake one and a half hour."

Granted, it got a lot of cholesterol going on in there, but what with working the fields on a daily basis, you probably could get away with it. I would go for cinnamon and some clove as the "spice" component, and the sugar should be raw, or brown, at least, or better yet, molasses.

This year, try to keep things simple, and put the greatest amount of effort into a bountiful heart.


Friday, November 22, 2013

The Selfie Craze

This week, the Oxford Dictionary picked their annual word of the year, and this year's entry is "SELFIE", for self-portrait. The Selfie has risen to new heights with technology, especially with celebrities who love to post pictures of themselves in "everyday" situations, so that the general voyaristic public can watch their every move. The latest celebrity selfies range from drinking a Starbucks to taking a bath!

Well, the self-portrait is nothing new, only magnified by technology, instantaneous and wide-reaching. In the 18th Century, the selfie was generally painted, by artists, who captured themselves on canvas or by etchings or drawings. Of course, they took time to produce, and were seen by people close at hand, but the artists indulged themselves here nonetheless. Everyone likes to take stock of themselves, look in the mirror, see photos or videos of themselves now and again.

Below is an interesting one: Artist Carriera's self portrait along with a smaller portrait of her sister, 1709.
And, below that one of Gilbert Stuart in a rather pensive mood, 1785. And, one of Gabrielle Capet with brush in hand, 1783.
Finally, one of me, taking my own picture....I couldn't resist!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lord Nelson - A Health Report

After blogging about Kennedy and Washington's health, I decided to look into another historical favorite of mine,  1st Viscount Lord Horatio Nelson, Admiral of the British Royal Naval Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars.

Here again was someone that though a great hero, suffered from poor health all his life. He was considered puny and of slight stature when he was a boy. His uncle stated that he couldn't understand why anyone would suggest Horatio for naval service.

At sixteen he was a midshipman in the HMS
Seahorse in the East Indies, and contracted malaria. He suffered recurring bouts of the disease. The climate was conducive, and he was seriously debilitated. Not too much later, about 1786, he is thought to have gotten cholera, but symptoms suggested typhoid. Here again, he suffered miserably. Doctors prescribed a strict dietary treatment along with therapeutic baths at Bath, drinking of the waters there. Though he rallied once again, these illnesses left lasting damage. By 1790 it is said he suffered from gout.

Of course he also suffered many wounds from battle, and their resulting pains and on-going difficulties. In 1794 he lost his eye to gun shot that sent splinters into his face. Later at the Battle at Teneriffe in 1797, he lost his arm. Amputation procedures of the times were rather crude. His face held many bruises and scarring from cuts, and he began suffering angina at age 38.  Several concussions left him in what condition we would now consider a pre-mature senility or dementia. Think of the recent reports of NFL stars; the recognition of the high price to be paid for repeated head injury.

Of course, eventually Horatio lost his life at the famed Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805. He is England's greatest hero, stopping Napoleon's advance and ending the war. Throughout his life, he battled on, never giving up. He is the stuff of legend!

Nelson once wrote of himself, later in life,  "Wounds received by Lord Nelson: His eye in Corsica, His belly off Cape St. Vincent, His arm at Teneriffe, His head in Egypt....Tolerable for one war!"


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

To be or not to be HEALTHY!

Last night I watched the PBS American Experience special, JFK. Of course, John Kennedy is immortalized, or rather frozen in time, as one of the great presidents of the 20th Century. The times were much different than today, when all, and I mean ALL, is revealed by social media.

There was great mention made in the TV special, that Kennedy was never truly a healthy individual, beginning from childhood. He was considered rather puny, suffered infections, bouts of sickness. And then, he was diagnosed with Addison's Disease, an endocrine disorder. The medication he was given had terrible side effects including destroying his bones, which led to his chronic back problems as a adult. In fact, when he met with Nikita Khrushchev at the famous Vienna Summit, Kennedy was shot up with amphetamines and various pain killers in order to make the appointment! No one knew too much about this side of his life. These things were kept mostly hidden, and he, when he ran for office, made the great effort to appear young, strong and vigorous. I wonder if he would have gotten elected at all if these problems were truly made known at the time.

It got me to thinking about our first president, George Washington, and what I may find out about his health. Granted, more people suffered various diseases and illnesses more commonly as there were no real medications to work with. It was just a fact of life that people lived with maladies. But, I did find an interesting chart that shows Washington's age and corresponding illness and year. He is shown to have recurring bouts with malaria, tuberculosis and dysentery. We all know he suffered from rotting teeth, eventually having to use dentures. As they say, bad teeth can be a sign of bad health.
Age Year Disease
--- ---- -------
 ?? ???? diphtheria 18
 17 1749 malaria
 19 1751 smallpox
 19 1751 tuberculosis
 30 1752 malaria
 33 1755 dysentery (+)
 35 1757 dysentery (*)
 35 1757 tuberculosis (*)
 39 1761 malaria (**)
 39 1761 dysentery (**)
   Age Year Disease
--- ---- -------
 47 1779 quinsy
 52 1784 malaria
 57 1789 carbuncle
 58 1790 pneumonia
 59 1791 carbuncle
 66 1798 malaria
 67 1799 epiglottitis[?]
+ = multiple episodes
* = simultaneous illnesses
* * = simultaneous illnesses

It was lucky for us that Washington's health was comparatively good during the Revolutionary War (1776-1783)!    


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Whale of a Tale

I spent the better part of last weekend on the couch, with a dull headache plaguing the base of my skull, enough so that when I woke up on Saturday morning, the minute I stood up, my stomach did not fare well at all, to put it as discreetly as possible. And so, being relegated to the couch, when I was not sleeping, I tried to watch some TV. I happened upon “Moby Dick, the 1956  classic with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, and Richard Basehart as Ishmael.

When I was forced to read these American literature classics in school, I must admit I truly missed their greater meaning. I guess it was a subject not of particular interest to me, and hence I dutifully read, and after being tested on the subject, quickly forgot the story.

Watching the movie, which was probably not as good as Herman Melville’s original book, I was intrigued, captivated. The story caught my greater imagination. I would now like to know more, and I will probably get the book for my library.
The story takes place in the 1800’s, but meanwhile, I looked into whaling during the 1700’s for the good of this blog.

Before the 1600’s, whaling was primarily done by indigenous people for basic needs. It was not until much later when faster ships were employed and better methods of butchering developed  that commercial whaling became more popular. The first commercial ventures were organized in Europe, with England beginning whaling expeditions in Greenland in 1610.

In the New World, whaling operations were in full swing from 1600-1700 in Cape Cod. Throughout the 1700’s the industry exploded in the American Colonies with 1789 being a major year.  Advancement in weaponry included the shoulder gun and darting gun. With these developments a huge expansion in whaling began, almost like a gold rush, people making great fortunes at the trade.

But this led to the danger of whales being killed off in greater and greater numbers, almost to extinction. Today, whaling is monitored by almost every nation.  Of course, as in all business, the notion of supply and demand rule, and eventually, profits were not made as readily, costs increased, too much effort was expended in voyaging out to find the whales, and the trade lost its appeal.
Well, either things need to change, or as they say, all good things come to an end.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Swing your partner round and round, and off with their head!

Recently I attended the Pride, Prejudice and Zombie Ball, part of the Halloween experience for this year. It really was a kick, with most participants in Regency style attire. I was Proud and Privileged to wear an ensemble my daughter ( designed for me.

I was discussing this outfit with a friend who reminded me of the Bals des Victimes, or Victim’s Ball, that were put on by dancing societies after the Reign of Terror! I had to do some research!!!

To be a part of these societies, you had to be a relative of someone who faced the guillotine during the Terror. What a distinguished honor, ha ha! These dances hit their peak after the death of Robespierre, the first held in early 1795, mentioned in popular writing by 1797. History now suggests they were merely rumored to have occurred, but I think they were more than invention. At least I’d like to think so.

Though they began as a rash of merriment, they assumed a greater significance, with participants acting out the emotional impact of their family’s executions, and the resulting social upheaval. Attire included mourning clothes, with crepe armbands, gowns plain but scanty in the wake of the impoverished, or Greco-Roman dress with bare feet. Women wore a red ribbon around their neck as an homage to the guillotine blade. The preferred gown color was ghostly white, worn along with long red shawls, and men were said to bow to one’s partner with a jerk of the head, sharply downward, imitating the lopping off of one’s head. Ouch!

Sometimes we think we have the jump on the “ghoulish” today, but I think these Bals Des Victimes just cap it off!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

London: The Great City

I just finished a course on the History of London, one of the DVD lecture series from The Great Courses. This lecture was 24 half-hour installments, and I am sad to see it come to an end. I learned so much, so many great stories that just help confirm my love of that fair city. The series contained a wealth of information that spanned from practically pre-historic times to the new millennium. The professor, Robert O. Bucholz, an American, attended Oxford University. He currently teaches History at Loyola University Chicago, specializing on Great Britian, Western Civilization and London, of course. He has written many books, of which now I want to look into.

But, in his last lecture, in closing, he ended the series with a poem about London, written in 1738 by John Banks, called A Description of London ... It caught my imagination. London is filled with contradictions, fascinating changes over its years. It is truly resilient, and has made it self over many times. It is formal and proper, and yet there is an undercurrent of the seedy or strange. After all, it was the home of Jack The Ripper! Reduced to ashes upon more than one occasion, it rises again like the perennial Phoenix. Banks' words paint a picture of a spirited place of movement, gaiety and pleasure, foreboding and danger.

Houses, churches, mixed together,
Streets unpleasant in all weather;
Prisons, places contiguous,
Gates, a bridge, the Thames irriguous.

Gaudy things enough to tempt ye,
Showy outsides, insides empty;
Bubbles, trades, mechanic arts,
Coaches, wheelbarrows and carts.

Warrant, bailiffs, bills unpaid,
Lords of laundresses afraid;
Rogues that nightly rob and shoot men,
Hangmen, aldermen and footmen.

Lawyers, poets, priests, physicians,
Noble, simple, all conditions:
Worth beneath a threadbare cover,
Villainy bedaubed all over.

Women black, red, fair and grey,
Prudes and such as never pray,
Handsome, ugly, noisy, still,
Some that will not, some that will.

Many a beau without a shilling,
Many a widow not unwilling;
Many a bargain, if you strike it:
This is London! How d'ye like it?

Well, I like it very much! Even though it is a huge, sprawling city, it is still walkable, and history is everywhere. Fun to explore on foot, or by tube!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Be Prepared!

As the day of ghosts and ghouls fast approaches, I look into one of the most enduring horror themes: The Vampire. The 18th Century has a particular event to recall, resulting in mass hysteria. It is called the 18th Century Vampire Controversy”, which began with a panic of alleged vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 (it’s always Eastern Europe, if you think about it!).

There were two famous cases, officially recorded, involving the corpses of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole, both from Serbia. Plogojowitz supposedly died (age 61), and returned asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead, from loss of blood. Paole was an ex-soldier turned farmer, who died, later returning to prey on his neighbors.  There was another case centered around Sava Savanovic, living in a watermill, killing and drinking the blood of millers. The character Savanovic was later used in a story written by Serbian Milovan Glisi, and turned into the 1937 horror film Leptirica.

Though this was an age of reason, the idea of vampirical (Is that a word?! Ha Ha ) attacks created quite a stir, and the forward-thinking purchased vampire hunting kits, just to be on the safe side! Some were quite extensive, including stakes, hammer, holy water, crucifix, vials of garlic powder and other concoctions to ward of the undead, bible, pistol with silver bullets, axe for decapitation. Everything you may need to prepare for the worst!

The enduring romance and mystery of the Vampire continue to this day. It's compelling to contemplate, as long as you're prepared!

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Gothic Novel

It's October, and thoughts turn to goblins and ghouls and gothic horror! I look forward every year to busting out all my favorite creep-show movies, including Dracula, Frankenstein, House of Wax, Sleepy Hollow, to name a few. It's part of the fun to be scared to death!
Also, I sent away for a "horrible" book to read this month: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! It's really a kick! It revolves around Jane Austen's original novel, but with Zombies thrown in to terrorize Derbyshire, Netherfield Park, Merryton, basically all the locations in which the story takes place!

In the spirit of the season, I decided to look into Gothic fiction, which is the genre of literature that includes elements of horror and romance. Its origin comes with the first of its kind, "The Castle of Otranto", by English author Horace Walpole, written in 1764. This was groundbreaking stuff at the time, to be followed by authors like Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein, works by Edgar Allen Poe, etc, up to the beginning of the 19th Century, and the rest is history, as they say.

The name "gothic" refers to the medieval buildings in which the stories generally take place, the ruins of a dark earlier age, representing the collapse and decay of humanity.
Walpole set the parameters for the gothic tale. There are always the following characters interjected: the virginal maiden, the old foolish woman, the hero, the tyrant, the stupid servant, clowns, ruffians, clergy. These characters reinforce the story: the innocent deflowered, the knight in shining armor, the comic relief, the moral judge, etc. It's all there, with suspense, bone-chilling terror and forbidden love among the ruins thrown in for good measure.

By the way, The Castle of Otranto tells the story of a lord and his family, beginning on his son's wedding day, with a tragic event happening just after all the celebration. The tragedy is the fulfillment of an prophecy. It goes on from there with murders, trysts, sorrow, suspense, pain and suffering. Doesn't it make you want to crack the cover!?






Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Highland High

There are whiskies, and then there are whiskies, and Scotch whisky is a most wonderful treat, an acquired taste, but one well-worth the exploration. Scotch must be made in Scotland, for there are many places around the globe where whisky is produced, but none quite like those lovingly produced in the Lowlands and the highlands of Scotland, and they must be made in a manner specified by law.

All Scotch was originally made from malt barley, though commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late eighteenth century.   Scotch is divided into five distinct categories: single malt, single grain, blended malt, blended grain and blended.   And, all Scotch must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years.

By the way, the first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495, by a friar named John Cor, who was the distiller at Lindores Abbey (shown at right).

Independent Scotch Whisky bottlers started bottling Scotch in the 18th century, most of these bottlers where traditionally wine brokers and shop owners. Demand for the “water of life” was quite high, and in the natural progression of commerce, store owners began to blend single malts to make their own particular product. Smoother, more palatable blends were produced that are still around today, including Johnnie Walker and Dewar’s.

But for the cognoscenti, there is nothing like the true single malt. My particular favorites come from Speyside, or the north east region of the Highlands, The Balvenie, Aberlour and The MacCallan.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A New Find

I get up very early each morning so that I have some time to think about the day, reflect, plan, work on a project before the day gets cranked up. I like to put on my local classical streaming TV music station while I have that first glorious cup of java. I don't want the music too loud, just enough to hear something lovely to start my morning.

Today, I heard something that made my ears prick up. I went over to the set to see whose work was highlighted. Gallupi - Flute Concerto in D. I like to play a little game, and see if I can tell whose music is on, what era it's from. I thought I heard some Vivaldi in there; perhaps some Handel or Bach. Something a bit earlier than Mozart or his contemporaries. Something a little "Italianate" perhaps.

When I saw the name Gallupi, I had to look him up. Ahh! Italian - early 1700's. Born in the island of Burano, near Venice, Baldassare Galuppi lived from 1706 - 1785, He became an international success, spending time in London and St. Petersburg as well as the Venetian Republic. He became famous in Europe for his operas, eventually earning the title of "father of the comic opera". He held official posts, most notably the head of music at the Doge's chapel, St. Mark's Basilica, in the famous square of the same name. He composed a great deal of church music, and he was a virtuoso keyboard performer.

Gallupi was a nice find this morning! Someone new to listen to.