‘18 A To Z Challenge – C

Challenge '18 Letter C

Druid

My Scottish ancestors were doing just fine, until the Christians came along with fire and sword.

Caim – (n.) Sanctuary. An invisible circle of protection drawn around the body with the hand, to remind one of being safe and loved even in the darkest times.  The index finger of the right hand was to be extended and pointed at the ground to do this.  It was to be drawn clockwise, as God has made the sun and moon rise and set.

The Irish and my Scottish Celtic ancestors lived a naturalistic existence, close to the earth, the plants and the wildlife.  Then along came the Christians.  They would have none of this mystical hand-waving.  They wanted their own brand of mystical hand-waving.

First, the spelling and pronunciation was slurred to ‘Cain.’  In their mythology, Cain was the first murderer, and an evil person, a servant of Satan.  No-one was allowed to be saved or protected by such an evil spirit.  Union rules said that all such work went to Jesus.  The word ‘Caim’ still exists in the Scottish language, but it now describes a Christian prayer for protection.

The Celts were already well aware of the motions of the sun and the moon, but the Christian ‘God’ even creeps into the historical definition, by making them do so.  I noted that the definition is Northern-centric.  In the Northern hemisphere, the apparent movements of the sun and moon are clockwise, from left to right.

When this word was born, the Christians had not yet invaded the Southern Hemisphere, where the counter-clockwise, widdershins, motion of the Heavenly bodies was obvious, and correct.  I wonder what the Christians would think of that??  (Oops, I used the words ‘think’ and ‘Christian’ in the same sentence.)  😯

Click here http://branawen.blogspot.ca/2011/09/celtic-symbolism-casting-ring-of.html caim, if you’d like to have a look at the research for this.

I’ll have a little bit of lighter humor in a week.  Hope to see you there.

 

WOW #23

Dictionary

I have a

DILEMMA

The other day, I merely had a lemma. I’m pleased, because almost no-one else knows when they’ve got one.  A lemma is a spikelet of grass or other plant.

Linguaphiles speak of words which are positive, which have no negatives, or negative, but have no positives. Poor ‘dilemma’ is a bit of an orphan – one parent, and no-one knows what it is.

The phrase ‘caught in a cleft stick’ means that someone is jammed between two options, unable to make a choice for either one. The prefix ‘di’ also means two.  The word ‘dilemma’ is a situation where you are already impaled on two sharp, contradictory choices, and getting off is going to be intellectually or emotionally painful, and adopting and sticking yourself with either single option will hurt even more.  See lose/lose, or zero-sum-gain situation.

Reprogramming the Star Fleet computer so that you can win the Kobyashi Maru mission test is not a dilemma. If only we were able to reprogram more of life’s double-edged predicaments.  Things would go so much more smoothly.

Finding your way back here for more exciting, informative blog-posts should not be a dilemma.  If you haven’t already, lose your mind and just click on ‘Follow’ above, and leave some nice, but not pointed, comments.

A To Z Challenge – S

april-challenge

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS

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I want to discuss my ancestors, but the above title is a lie. Upstairs/Downstairs was a British TV series dealing with the various goings-on of the upper-crust, upper-floor rich folk in a mansion, and the serving class below them, both physically and socially, who provided their every whim and wish.

My forebears didn’t live in no stinkin’ mansion, making tea, and cucumber sandwiches for effete dilettantes.   My folks have been industrious, productive people for hundreds of years.  They were ‘blue-collar’ long before blue collars existed.  A more accurate title might be Manor-House/Mill-house – and never the twain shall meet.

My father’s name (and mine) was Smith.  His progenitors originally were productive German artisans named Schmied.  Over many years, the name changed to Schmidt, and was carried to the newly-born United States of America by a Hessian mercenary, paid by the British.  After another hundred years, it got Anglicized to Smith.

Smith is a proud name, and a proud profession. It originally meant, one who produces, makes or manufactures something. Then the language changed so that it meant, a worker in metal.  Finally, the meaning narrowed to just the blacksmith, who pounds hot iron and steel.

I like to think of myself as a wordsmith.  I received blacksmith training in my high school shop class.  (Yes, I lived that far out in the sticks, and back in the mists of time.)  Blacksmith is making a comeback, both through the custom knife and sword makers, and artisans who supply millennial hipsters with hand-made gate latches, coat-racks, porch rails and coffee tables.

My mother’s side of the family supplied the name Stewart.  This is a Scottish name from the English word steward, meaning, one who takes take of something.  The spelling of this name also slipped a bit, to Stuart, and a branch of the clan became the Royal Stuarts, ruling, and ‘taking care of’, Scotland.

Before he emigrated from Glasgow to Canada, my maternal grandfather became the ‘Keeper of the Tartans’ at the fabric mill where he worked. He was the steward of the patterns of the plaids which clothed a good portion of the country.

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All in all, I think maybe this is the S that I should have chosen for this post.  I’m impressed with my family history.  How about you?  😎

HASH

About a year ago, I published a post titled Leftovers, where I showed and described some of the odd knives I had accumulated over the years. To get rid of leftovers, you chop them up fine, and turn them into hash.  This is a hash of some of the other edged and pointed tools and toys infesting our home.

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The son’s knife made of glass c/w a skull in the butt.

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The skull’s a bit hazy, but then, so is the photographer.

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The wife’s letter openers;
$1.49 Wal-Mart special
steel blade with cast pewter hummingbird/flower handle
antique Victorian sterling silver, which someone ruined by grinding it ‘sharp’
$30 handmade c/w rosewood handles

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My letter opener.  A birthday gift from daughter/grandson.  Miniature Eragon sword.

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A grandson gift.  This letter opener is banded agate stone, with Scottish thistle pommel.  Blurry, as usual.  😳

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The son’s excess work knives.  Numbers 1 and 2 were found in ’empty’ parts cases, returned from customers.  3, 4 and 5, he purchased, #3, at a Detroit knife show, #4 in Toronto, and #5 from Amazon….’cause he doesn’t have enough knives.

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My EDC, (every day carry)  $100 Gerber in nylon/Velcro belt sheath.

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The son’s assault knife, called the “Feral Siamese”.  More of a short sword c/w skull-breaker pommel & formed Kydex sheath.  Needs a big, strong hand/arm.

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The son’s $2000 Katana, which he won for $20.  Shown with Kydex scabbard and the winning ticket.

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The son’s ‘utility’ Katana, called the “2014 TiKat”.  A little less fancy, built by the same maker who produced the blade for the one above.  This one is made of titanium rather than stainless steel – half the weight, with twice the strength and edge-holding, with a snug wooden scabbard.  I really need to get someone else to take these photos.

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A decorative skinner/caper with a cast pewter wolf’s-head counterbalance and wolf scene on the handle.

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My dragon kriss, gift from the daughter.

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A replica German officer’s dagger with cast/moulded metal scabbard.

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One of the son’s titanium belt buckles, this one with a single skull motif.

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Another titanium belt buckle, this one with a dragon surmounting the Earth.

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A matching titanium folding knife and belt buckle combo, this one with multiple, smaller skulls.  (And my hands and camera sneaking in via reflection)
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Not the son’s ‘falling star pendant’,  this one is a Maltese Cross, made of Damascus steel.  A knife with this patterning is awesome.

That’s about all the knife-related stuff we’ve got.  See you again (or you’ll see me) in a couple of days.

Flash Fiction #68

Chivalry

CHIVALRY

It was a dark and stormy night when Sir Lilliput, King Arthur’s smallest knight requested shelter at the country inn, though he admitted “I fear I have no coin to pay.”

Being a dwarf, he’d had the blacksmith forge a child-sized suit of armor, but was too small for a charger. Instead, he saddled and rode a huge Flemish Mastiff.

A regular customer asked why the innkeeper fed him and his mount, and complained that he always demanded cash on the barrelhead of them.

“Look at the weather outside. I wouldn’t send a Knight out on a dog like that.”

***

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

Blade Runners

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On Saturday, Aug. 23, the son, grandson and I attended another Art Knife Show at a fancy hotel in downtown Toronto. We took along with us, the Katana sword shown above, which the son won in a door-prize raffle in 2011. Tickets were $5/ea, or 5 for $20. The son risked the twenty bucks, and the lady at the door gave him six tickets. Being honest, he returned the extra ticket, and insists that it was the karma from this act which won him the sword.

We carefully wrapped it in a large towel, so that it could ride the subway with us, incognito. It was a collaboration effort. One skilled bladesmith created the blade, and then handed it over to another maker, more skilled in adding the fittings – handle, guard, wrap, and sheath – and assembling the final product.

While finished, at the show, it took another 10 months for it to be shipped to us. We emailed photos to the blade maker, but he was very interested in actually seeing and handling the finished product. He had to miss the 2012 show. In 2013, the son forgot to bring it, but promised, “Next year in Jerusalem Toronto.” In 2014, we were 60 miles from home when the son finally thought of it. We weren’t going back! This year, finally, the blade guy was overjoyed and impressed, and took several shots of it for his catalogue.

Below are several photos of blades I felt were interesting and well made, along with a few comments. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I’ll try to answer.

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See final picture at bottom.

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The knife on the right is one version of a sub-hilt fighter.  I paid a maker $700 to produce a cheaper model with a white handle that I could have scrimshawed.  He played around for over two years before deciding that he wanted to make American Civil War replicas.  It took another year, and urging from influential members of the Guild, to get him to return my money.  I’d have been much happier to have the knife instead.

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This Damascus double ulu started off as a joke by a maker with a young son who didn’t want to eat the crusts on his toast.

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Double-ended jackknives used to be common.  Some cutlery companies still make a few from $20 to $100.  I believe this beauty was going for $850.

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Not quite an ‘art knife’, this hay-bale cutter contained $200 worth of material and labor.  The maker built it for experience and practice.  It was going to a Mennonite in my area in exchange for some Damascus steel that he had made, and a small blower forge.

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My little digital camera really does not do some of these knives justice.  Click on the photos for more detail.

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The photos above and below are of knives produced by the maker of the blade of the katana at the top.  Again, my lack of detail does not show the high quality of his blades, but amateurish finish on his handles.

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Knife Collector's Prayer

The photo at the top shows a small portion of a collection that the owner of this sign had on display.  The ‘Art Knife Makers’ were all dressed in suits and upscale clothing.  They usually built one knife at a time.  While they charged $500 to $5000 a knife, they often had it sold, and money in hand before it was finished.

This unassuming guy dressed like me – black jeans and a polo shirt, but his display contained dozens of these expensive toys.  I need to ask him next year what he does for a living.  The cost of his collection could buy a small country.

Flash Fiction #66

Widdershins

PHOTO PROMPT © The Reclining Gentleman

WIDDERSHINS

He must be late! Everybody was coming back. Bloody British, they don’t know if they’re coming or going, but do it on the wrong side of the road. Everyone else had passed to the right on medieval trails, to keep the sword-arm free.

Not the English! No Sirree! At least they hadn’t passed this aberration on to Canada or the USA, although they’d led 50 other countries astray – if you didn’t look too hard at the definition of the term ‘country.’ Turks and Caicos Islands, and Vendu. Vendu?? There were sunglass kiosks in the malls that were larger than Vendu.

***

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