Auto Prompt – Knowledge Challenge – Combermere

It all started so innocently, as most of them usually do, though this one was unusual, because it involved my often less-than-innocent Scottish ancestors.

Scottish Flag

I needed a four-letter crossword solution for ‘sea’, starting with M. Five minutes later, working sideways, I had ‘mere’? 😕 Quick Archon, to the dictionary. I soon found that the Scots, through a mouthful of oatmeal porridge, had turned the French word ‘mer’ into ‘mere.’

Through my Scottish heritage, I knew that there was a small Southern-Ontario town named Combermere, and one back in the UK. The word ‘comber’ has two pronunciations. There is the usual English Coe-mrr, which is a person or device which combs. Also, a large, long wave, which can strip (comb) things off a beach as it crashes ashore, is a comber. Then there is the Scottish Comm-Brrr, which is used for personal and place names. I once heard two women refer to a man, whose name of Comber they’d read but not heard, as Coe-mrr. As a Scot, I knew better. What did those old kilt-wearers mean when they put those two words together?

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I quickly learned that the mere was no vast sea. It was merely a wee mountain lake – a tarn. The ground around it was too rocky for agriculture, so sheep were raised. However pronounced, the word comber had the same meaning. Once the sheep were sheared, and before the wool was spun to thread and woven into bright Tartans, it was combed (carded), whether by hand, like the hand-carders above, from my Gadgets post, or with a hand-cranked, mechanical device.

The shearing of hundreds of sheep produces a lot of fleece. While the men were busy tending to the now-nude creatures, the women combed, and combed, and combed. Combermere became the name for a pastoral little village which grew up at the lower edge of a Scottish lake, renowned for its yarn and woven cloth.

Don’t look for it there now. Time, and society, and politics changed over the centuries. All that’s left is the Combermere Abbey, in England, near the northern border of Wales. It was named for an Earl of Combermere, which title was given to an Englishman, after James VI of Scotland became James I of England.

If you’re interested in some hand-carded fleece, or hand-spun yarn, or hand-knitted or crocheted apparel, join the daughter, Ladyryl, at her blog, or at http://www.facebook.com/frogpondcollective. She’ll show you how it was done in the Goode Olde Dayes.

Something Old, Something New, Something Stolen, Just For You

Garter

“Some scientists now believe that Jesus Christ had a wife. They also believe that Jesus’ nephew called Jesus’ wife the “Auntie Christ.’”

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Three blondes died and are at the pearly gates of heaven. St. Peter tells them that they can enter the gates if they can answer one simple question. St. Peter asks the first blonde, “What is Easter?”

The blonde replies, “Oh, that’s easy! It’s the holiday in November when everyone gets together, eats turkey, and are thankful and stuff…”

“Wrong!,” replies St. Peter, and proceeds to ask the second blonde the same question, “What is Easter?”

The second blonde replies, “Easter is the holiday in December when we put up a nice tree, exchange presents, and drink eggnog.”

St. Peter looks at the second blonde, shakes his head in disgust, tells her she’s wrong, and then peers over his glasses at the third blonde and asks, “What is Easter?”

The third blonde smiles confidently and looks St. Peter in the eyes, “I know what Easter is. Easter is the Christian holiday that coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jesus and his disciples were eating at the last supper. Then the Romans took him to be crucified and he was stabbed in the side, made to wear a crown of thorns, and was hung on a cross with nails through his hands. He was buried in a nearby cave which was sealed off by a large boulder.”

St. Peter smiles broadly with delight.

The third blonde continues, “Then every year the boulder is moved aside so that Jesus can come out… and, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

***

If you’re singing Christmas songs on your neighbor’s lawn at night with your church group, it’s called “caroling.”

But if you’re doing it alone with no pants on, it’s called “drunk and disorderly.”

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How come writing your lover’s name in the sand is considered romantic, but if you write her name in a snowbank…. Ew, ew, ew!

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My wife has this red ‘Christmas’ lingerie with faux fur around the neck and cuffs and it comes with a little Santa hat.

“I hate this outfit,” I said when she walked into the room.

She replied, “Then why are you wearing it?”

***

A daughter said, ‘Mom, how many kinds of ‘willies’ are there?’

The mother, surprised, smiles and answers, ‘Well dear, a man goes through three phases.’

‘In his 20s, his willy is like an oak tree, mighty and hard. In his 30s and 40s, it is like a birch, flexible but reliable. After his 50s, it is like a Christmas tree.’

‘A Christmas tree?’

‘Yes — dead from the root up and the balls are just for decoration.’

***

A new survey found that 81 percent of parents admit to stealing Easter candy from their children. While the other 19 percent of parents don’t think it counts as stealing if you bought the candy in the first place.

Flash Fiction #188

Lilliput

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD

His grandfather had this house built, over a century ago. It had been a proud mansion, 2-1/2 stories of fieldstone, a mile and a half from town, dwarfing nearby one-story wooden farm houses.

Times changed. Commerce changed. Businesses started up, and workers moved in. The city changed. Steadily it bloated out towards him, into pristine Mennonite farmland.

Now, the house was the last of its kind, on a busy street, a Lilliputian, towered over by apartment buildings. Developers constantly hounded him to sell. He would mourn the loss of his heritage, but it was time to surrender and move on.

Mennonite

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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Friday Fictioneers

The Need For Myths

Fairy Tale

Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our story. We all need to understand death and to cope with death, and we all need help in our passages from birth to life and then to death.

It may really not be possible to do away with myths. The myth is as much a part of the human need as the allure of it. Even when one does not want to, there will come a time when a person feels the need for a story. This inner need expresses itself as a search, or as a desire. It may come early in life or it may come late. Nevertheless, a person who thinks, is bound to realize a sense of emptiness. Nothing but a story could fill it. All a person would want or hope for is to find a good story, and then, live it.

Finding one’s myth

This is where one person differs from another. It’s easy to understand. What isn’t easy to understand is always, why one person chooses one story to understand his reality, while someone else chooses another. It is to be understood that: Till the time a person finds the story – the myth – that satisfyingly explains his existence and gives purpose to his mind, his soul, the power within is still not released. It is looking for its expression. The myth provides the expression. Only then, when one goes deep into his personal myth, is it no longer just a story, but life itself. Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life.

Every culture ought to provide a satisfying myth to the people it holds – one might say – captive. Yes, cultures hold at least some persons captive, while the vast majority are simply organized by it. This is what we understand to be a society. Is that not true? The exceptional individuals of society – the artists, the searchers, the thinkers, and the visionaries – if they succeed in finding their creativity-unlocking-myth, will then become the heroes and the leaders. They may even one day become legends that others recall with some fondness and some fear.