Sunday, November 28, 2010


Today is the First Sunday of Advent in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican calendars. Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30 (the Feast of St Andrew the Apostle) and ends on Christmas Eve, 24 December.  If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent.

The word 'advent' is Latin for 'a coming or arrival' so Christians look on Advent as a season of preparation.  It is a time to get ready for the birth of Jesus Christ.
Practicing Christians do special things to mark the holy purposes of the Advent season and many churches have weekly services with a lot of praise, joy and song.

During the Advent season many families start making their own creche or manger scene. It has been said that St Francis of Assisi popularized the creche. 

The Advent wreath is part of the long-standing tradition but the actual origins are uncertain. There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic peoples using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring. In Scandinavia during Winter, lighted candles were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn “the wheel of the earth” back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth. 

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection ( Thanks to Fr  William Saunders - The History of the Advent Wreath - Arlington Catholic Herald).
The four candles that decorate the wreath represent the four weeks of Advent. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken during this season and the rose candle is lit on the third Sunday marking the the midpoint of Advent. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world.

The light signifies Christ, the Light of the world. Some modern day adaptions include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is to replace the three purple and one rose candles with four white candles which will be lit throughout Christmas season. 

Since Advent is a time to stir-up our faith in the Lord, the wreath and its prayers provide Christians with a way to augment the special preparation for Christmas.  The tradition helps us to remain vigilant in our homes and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. 

For those of you celebrating this wonderful time of 'waiting' I wish you a joyful Advent season. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Different Trophy

Mag 42

Possessions collections and winnings

Forever on show

Like the trophy wife  

Barbara M Lake
November 2010
Trinidad WI

Magpie Tales by courtesy of Willow

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to One and All

To all my American friends, a very happy Thanksgiving

May your lives be filled with blessings and an abundance of all things good 
May your day be filled with joy as you give thanks and may you be surrounded with love, peace and fulfillment on this special holiday.

Please remember to give special thanks because
had it not been for the early settlers
You'd all be British!!!!!

Pre Thanksgiving

If anyone is having problems today trying to find the turkey, you may just want to check unlikely places around your house!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How Many Have you Read?

Last year I read an article about the number of books that people have read.   This was a result of  a BBC survey.  I posted the article on Face Book and friends were appalled with the so-called findings. We then ran a questionnaire asking people how many of the mentioned books they had read.  Most of us had read more than 50%. of those on the list so we wanted to know who the people were that the BBC surveyed and what age group.   We also started a Book Nerds Unite Page where we posted books read and books we thought should have been included on the list.

Today a friend from the group re-posted and I tagged a different group of people.I came to realize that several of the books are English classics which are used in British English Literature classes and that is probably why I have read so many. Not all were read out of choice.  I could add well over a hundred more that I have read.

This is the 2009  BBC Survey and I have put  into bold, the ones that I have read.

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (no because my daughter still doesn't have the 1st so am not starting)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible  ( including on Sundays, high days and holidays probably several times)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens 

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare - not complete but feels like it - acted in several too).
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien 
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger 
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell 
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald 
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis 
34 Emma-Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne 

 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
 The second 50

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (have just ordered it - trying to get it for months!)

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt  (trying to read the sequel "Virgin in the Garden" at the moment!)
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White 
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton 

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare 
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

What about you?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Timless Piece

Magpie Tales#41

By kindness of Willow on  Magpie Tales

There you stand
Against the wall
As life goes on

You are ancient
Tall beech antique
Past your prime

Long heavy pendulum
Swings no more
Have gone silent

Once standing proud
As masters checked
By your accuracy

Suddenly hands stopped
On Roman eleven
Or event unseen?

In your face
Cracks and lines
Dull and yellow

No auction room
Will you see
But handed down

Busy lives abound
Without a glance
The imposing fixture

Lavender polished always
With loving care
For service rendered

Barbara M Lake
November 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Russian Winter

I have just finished reading 'Russian Winter'.  Daphne Kalotay's first novel is a page turner!

If you are interested in history, poetry, the ballet, music and a read that describes Stalinist aggression whilst interweaving past in Iron Curtain Russia with present day Boston, I recommend this exquisite read which is set against the perfection of ballet. A tale of passion, intrigue, hardship, love and fear with wonderful details including the behind-the-scenes activities in the Bolshoi and the rigidness of post war Soviet Russia.

When Nina Revskaya decides to put her stunning jewel collection into the hands of a Boston auction house, nothing can prepare her for the turn of events that will take her back to those days before defection.

Harper Collins. April 2010 

I actually have an Advance Readers Edition which was not for sale.  Strange to see books before they reach the final publishing.  How did I get it?  A local bookstore recently opened a branch in out area and with every purchase, a book of choice was given away.  This was not my first choice.
I had my eye on She- Wolves: the Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor but a woman picked it up even though I remarked very loudly that it was only ONE book per purchase - she had four!! Not to say what her two sons had! So I ended up with this on my daughter's 'instruction'. After she read it she said it was a 'must' for me. She was right. Am an avid history reader.

If you find a copy  treat yourself  - I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Silent Pain

Mag  40 



I sweep my mane upward  
As you place the jewels
Around my throat
Snapping the dull gold clasp
Tightly shut
Gentle lips
Merely brushing my neck
And moving
To the crook of my arm
Deep dark eyes are yours                                                    
Cold as the black pearls
Against my skin
Icy lips touching my body
No feeling
Only contempt
For me and what I have done
But refusing
To let me go in peace     

I think of you as the monkey
Moulded in a tarnished clasp
Holding me forever
In a loveless sadistic grip
Your cruelty
And punishment
Covered by a gift of pearls
Silent torture
Is this what I deserve?

Barbara M Lake  ©   
November 2010                  




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