Sir John and the Knights of the Long Table

Eleven of us live here at beautiful Schamelot, and we have a small 20 acre farm of chickens, emus, two dogs, 13 or so cats and a cockateil named Sassafrass.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Night

Be of good cheer!

The Night

On the night that Christ was born
The rivers, one hears, ran fine
And sweetly between their banks,
Filled not with water but wine.

And any man who drank
Of that beneficent tide
(Though he had stooped in anger
To drink), grew pacified,
Loving even his foeman
As dearly as his bride;
Wholly at peace with himself,
The world and everything.

While the trees in the forest blossomed
As if the winter were spring.

Crochet a Bunch of Grapes for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

My Little Darlin's are Growing Up!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Canticle of the Bees

I thought it appropriate to read this poem on the Feast of the Holy Family (I should have posted it yesterday), since it is also appropriate to eat milk and honey on this feast. This is a beautiful poem! May we hear the bees and all see God one day.

The Canticle of the Bees

Bees in winter
Weather keep,
Rapt, a garden-haunted

Dream of summer,
Still as stone,
Save on Christmas Eve,

When that honey-havened
Roused by bells
From every steeple,

Wake and sing
With one accord
To the Lord.

“Praise Him,”
Sing the choiring bees,
“Lord of limes
And locust trees,

“Him Who has
Dominion over
Fields of amaranthine

“By Whose providence
We fare
Daily through
The throbbing air

“And return
In drowsy flight
From the pastures
Of delight,

“From the many-petaled
When the shadows close.”
So, at least,
The legend goes.

Visit them
When bells arrive.
Cup your ear
Against the hive.

You may hear them
Singing thus,
But multitudinous:

Lord of all
Things that flutter,
Fly or crawl,

“Now Your Star
Has shone again,
Bless Your swarming Bees.

Wondering, walk there.
Do not fear them.
But remember
As you near them,
Only the pure in heart
Shall hear them.

Crochet a Bumble Bee for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ballad of the Rosemary

Rosemary has always been one of my favorite herbs and now I know why! And tiny baby clean smell is one of the most intoxicating fragrances on earth. I LOVE this poem! Hope you do too,

Ballad of the Rosemary

Rosemary, lily, lilac tree,
Kind in the dooryards thrive all three,
But the kindest of them is rosemary.

When Mary rode to Egypt
Who bore the Christmas King,
Flowers along the wayside
Began their blossoming.

To fill His path with fragrances
The lilac lifted up
Her proud and plumy branches,
The lily spread her cup,

And only the green rosemary,
Born petal-less and mild,
Grieved that it owned no benison
Of sweetness for the Child.

The evening fell in perfume,
In perfume rose the day.
Said Mary, “Out of weariness
We’ll make a moment’s stay.

“Beside this running river,
Here where the willows lean,
I’ll set the Baby sleeping
And wash His garments clean.”

But when the clothes were wholesome,
Where could she hand them all?
“The lily breaks beneath them,
The lilac stands too tall.”

So on the trembling rosemary
She laid them one by one,
And strong the rosemary held them
All morning to the sun.

“I thank you, gentle Rosemary.
Henceforward you shall bear
Blue clusters for remembrance
Of this blue cloak I wear;

“And not your blossoms only,
I give you as reward,
But where His raiment clung to you
Which clad the little Lord,

“All shall be aromatic,”
Said Mary, “for I bless
Leaf, stem, and flower
That from this hour
Shall smell of holiness.”

Rosemary, lily lilac tree.
Sweet in the doorways thrive all three,
But sweetest of them is Rosemary.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Pine Tree

We tried in vain to find a cross-section of a pine cone that bore "the imprint." I wonder if it has to be a certain genus of pine. No matter, the poem is still a beautiful reminder of that creative power of the Infant God.

The Pine Tree

The pine was mortal, once, like other trees
That lift their boughs in air;
Wearing in summer its green fripperies,
In winter going bare
And desolate of birds.
But that was in an old, forgotten age
Before the words
Of Wise Men stung King Herod to such rage
That his loud armies went
About the land to slay the Innocent.

Then there was consternation and no joy
In Israel. Joseph and Mary, flying
Into another country with the Boy
Came when the day was dying,
Houseless to the edge of a green wood
Where valorously stood
A needled pine that every summer gave
Small birds a nest.
And half its trunk was hollow as a cave.
Said Joseph, “This is shelter. Let us rest.”

The pine tree, full of pity, dropped its vast
Protective branches down
To cover them until the troops rode past,
Their weapons jingling, toward a different town.

All night it hid them
When the morning broke,
The Child awoke
And blessed the pine, his steadfast lodging place.
“Let you (and your brave race)
Who make yourself My rampart and My screen
Keep summer always and be ever green.
For you the punctual seasons shall not vary,
But let there throng
A thousand birds to you for sanctuary
All winter long.”

The story tells us, too,
That if you cut a pine cone part way through,
You find it bears within it like a brand
The imprint of His hand.

Crochet a Pine Cone for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Stars' Story

This explains why we go to so much trouble over decorating these Christmas trees. It took John 6 hours to get our pre-lit fully operational!

The Star’s Story

When the great Star shone
From its mighty station
So shepherds, tranced,
Knelt down in the dew,
It was not alone
In its jubilation.
The little stars danced
By the thousands, too.

They danced on high
In that peerless hour,
Till giddy with praising
The Christchild’s birth
They reeled from the sky
And fell in a shower,
Burning and blazing,
Down to earth—

Slid in astonished
(But leaning to listen
Along the way)
To lodge in a burnished
Pine tree’s branches
Where still they glisten
To this very day.

For if you believe
What pale and shaken
Travelers tell,
On Christmas Eve
Those little stars waken
As bright and burning
As when they fell.

Look out of the West
When the year’s unwinding.
Perhaps they will dance
And you may see
A pine that is dressed
In light so blinding
It dazzles the glance.
And that will be
The world’s first, merriest
Christmas tree.

Crochet a Star for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends! You can add a picture of the baby Jesus, or crochet two backs and omit the picture.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Stork

I should have posted this yesterday, but we got busy rearranging furniture!

The Stork

When Christ was born on Christmas Day
The birds and the beasts knelt down to pray.

In wonder all,
Adoring, kneeled—
The ox in his stall,
The fox in the field,

While badger and bear and each wild thing
Flocked round the manger where slept a King
Housed in a stable at Bethlehem.
And the long-legged stork was there with them,

Her feathers white,
Her crest held high,
And awe in her bright
Compassionate eye.

“Alas,” she mourned, “how poor His bed
Who rules the universe overhead!
“Though cozily curled
Sleep all my breed,
The Lord of the World
Lies hard, indeed.

“Unpillowed is He who should wear a crown.”
Then out of her bosom she plucked the down.

The plumes from her breast
She tugged and tore
That the Child should rest
Like a beggar no more

But fine on a pallet fit for a prince.
And blest has the stork been, ever since—

For the gift she gave of her body’s wear,
Blest on chimneys, blest in the air,
And patron of babies

Crochet a Stork for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends! Just change the colors.

Friday, December 25, 2009

An Irish Legend and The Birthday

Both these legends "happened" to us. John's grandmother died one Christmas morning when Rachel was only three. Rachel was very close to Gramma, and we didn't want to spoil her Christmas by telling her right away that Gramma had died. We actually decided to put it off for at least a week (we were living in Okinawa and it really wasn't pressing). Before the octave was up, Rachel told us that she'd dreamed that Gramma was in jail and the "jaws" were going to eat her, but Rachel took the key and set her free. Think what you wish, but we believe Rachel saved Gramma with the prayers she had so piously been saying everyday for her.

The second legend involves Cæli. When she was very young, before I had even read this poem, she insisted that she had been to heaven one evening with the angels--for a party! No one familiar with the legend could look into her blue eyes and doubt that it's absolutely true!

Merry Christmas,

An Irish Legend

Whoever’s born on Christmas
Is favored from the start;
Has laughter and good fortune
And a contented heart;
Is loved by noble company,
Has all that should suffice.

But he that dies on Christmas
Goes strait to paradise.

Crochet a Shamrock for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends! Crochet two together for a stuffed Shamrock.

The Birthday

One Christmas Eve, some say,
Tall angels chosen for their sweet address
And reassuring aspect, take their way
To earth. There in all gentleness
They lift on either arm
A few most fortunate children sleeping warm
In their December nurseries, kiss them twice,
And bear them off to visit Paradise.

It is the Christ Child’s Birthday and the East
Is lit by a bright star. These children come
As playmates for Him, keepers of His feast.
They bring with them such pandemonium,
Such singing and such laughter
That Heaven shakes to its remotest rafter.

Along the tasseled floors
They drive their rainbow hoops like charioteers.
They toss gold balls; make kites of meteors;
Listen with Him to the melodious spheres
Chanting in chorus; climb the unfading trees
Of that celestial weather;
Reach forth to touch the spinning galaxies;
Then all together,
Bidding their Host affectionate goodnight,
Blow out the stars like candles where they burn,
And drowsily return
(Nodding upon soft pinions in the flight)
To their accustomed beds.

Yet when they seek
To tell that journey and the Birthday games,
They falter in the tale. They cannot speak
Such wonders by their names,
So presently fall silent. Parents, shaking
Incredulous heads can only shrug and smile,
Saying, “They dreamed a dream who now are waking.
They will remember nothing after while.”
But they are wrong. That child whom Christmas captures
Grows beautiful and wise,
Possessor all his days of arts and raptures
And heaven-dazzled eyes.

Crochet an Angel for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates


Children's Choir Singing Come Thou Long Expected Jesus


Beautiful Rendition of Carol of the Bells

Simply Glorious!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Creator Alme Siderum


Story for an Educated Child

This is a medieval legend from a book of poems that I LOVE! I usually send them out by e-mail every year. This year I decided to just post them on the blog. There are 15 of them, so I'm starting today, Christmas Eve, and we'll end on Epiphany (I'll post two tomorrow!). I've been wanting to make a little "ornament" for each legend and affix it to a wreath to make our own "Wreath of Christmas Legends." Maybe one of these years. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
This one got Caeli so excited she told the check out boy at the grocery store that she was going to Midnight Mass and at midnight she and McGregor were going to sneak out into the barn and listen to the animals talk in Latin. Poor guy stood in flabbergasted astonishment as she rattled on. He had no earthly idea what to make of it all and only said, "Well, enjoy your service," as they parted. John was laughing so hard he had tears streaming down his face. Children do make Christmas!

Story for an Educated Child

It used to be, when the world was young,
Animals spoke a Christian tongue,
Articulating clearly.
And still do those of peaceable bent
Practice the kind of accomplishment
On Christmas evening, yearly.

With human wit, in a human voice,
The beasts of the barnyard all rejoice
From Vespertime to Matin,
Recounting tales of the little God
Over and over. But isn’t is odd?
The speech they speak is Latin.

The strident Cock lifts up his crest,
Stuttering, “Christus natus est!”
Till midnight splits asunder.
Laborious from his stable box,
“Ubi? Ubi?” lows the Ox,
Bemused with sleep and wonder.

The somnolent Sheep, adrift from dreams,
Bleats “Bethlehem!” and her quaver seems
Half question and half promise.
Then Ass that wears by an old decree
A cross on his back for prophecy,
Brays forth his laud “Eãmus!”

And there they gossip while night grows gray
And curious stars have slipped away
From shimmering thrones they sat in.
So many a child might brave the cold
To hear them talking. But I am told
He mustn’t be more than six years old.
And who at six knows Latin?

Christus natus est! Christ is born!
Ubi? Where?
Bethlehem! Bethlehem!
Eãmus! Let us go!

Croche a Rooster for your own Wreath of Christmas Legends!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Feast of Sts. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Patriarchs

For today's feast of Sts. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we've made a beautiful triptych with card stock, glitter glue, and gold spray-painted masking tape.

Using two pieces of black card stock, I cut one in half lengthwise, then laying the two pieces over the remaining whole piece, I cut them into an arch.  Actually, to keep the arch symmetrical I cut the two halves into half arches first, then cut the whole piece.  I did the same to the background, making them about 1/4 inch smaller than the black card stock all the way around.  I taped the two side pieces to the center piece with scotch tape that I'll cover with the gold masking tape which I'll cut into a hinge shape. I cut out each of the patriarchs.

I glued the background to the card stock.  I swirled a thin track of tacky glue all over the back of each piece and then used a hatpin to spread the glue into a thin layer and reach all the way to the edges.  I did the same for the patriarchs.

To paint the masking tape gold I just sprayed it on the roll.  After it was dry I cut it into four equal pieces, being careful not to let the sticky side touch the painted side.  I cut the gold masking tape into hinge shapes and covered the scotch tape.  Then I outlined all the background pieces and also the halos of the patriarchs with gold glitter glue.

I'm really happy with how it came out.  From a distance it could almost pass for an expensive, professionally done work of art.  Up close you discover the truth!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Befriend a Saint

From "Around the Year with the Trapp Family"

"After our first gathering around the Advent light, and the singing of the first Advent hymn, an air of expectancy spreads over the family group; now comes the moment when the mother goes around with a bowl in which are the little cards with the names of the new saints. Everybody draws a card and puts it in his missal. This saint will be invoked every morning after morning prayer. Everyone is supposed to look up and study the life story of his new friend, and some time during the coming year he will tell the family all about it. As there are so many of us, we come to know about different saints every year. Sometimes this calls for considerable research on the part of the unfortunate one who has drawn St. Eustachius, for instance, or St. Bibiana. But the custom has become very dear to us, and every year it seems as if the family circle were enlarged by all those new brothers and sisters entering in and becoming known and loved by all."

Using this list of Companion Saints, we're each going to draw a new saint every First Sunday of the month and keep a picture of and a prayer to that saint in an album. I've made a document with different pictures of All Saints to use as the covers for each of our albums. I think we'll try to celebrate each saint's feast day as well, having the family member who's saint friend it is tell us a little about each saint. In this way we hope to increase our familiarity and deepen our intimacy with many of our lesser known spiritual family members.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The lovely little music book, The Story of the Redemption for Children, contains a song to commemorate the Annunciation on this the second day we celebrate the Incarnation of Our Lord during the year.

The collect for the day is:

O God who didst will that Thy Word should,
by the message of an Angel,
take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
grant unto us, we beseech Thee,
that all we who do believe her to be in very deed
the Mother of God,
may be holpen by her prayers in Thy sight.
O maiden of maidens,
how shall this be,
since neither before nor henceforth hath there been,
nor shall be such another?
Daughters of Jerusalem,
why look ye curiously upon me?
What ye see is a mystery of God.

And to commemorate her perpetual virginity:

Gaude Maria, Virgo, cunctas haereses sola interemisti:

Rejoice, O Mary,
by whose mighty hand the Church hath victory
over her foes [every heresy] achieved,
since thou to Gabriel's word of quickening power
in lowliness hast listened, and believed
-- thou, still a virgin, in thy blessed womb
hast God Incarnate of thy flesh conceived,
and still, in heaven, of that virginity remainest
after childbirth unbereaved.
V. Blessed art thou that hast believed,
for there is a performance of those things
which were told thee from the Lord.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Story of the Redemption for Children

Those of you with pianists in the home will love this book of sheet music, downloadable in PDF, which tells the story of the redemption in song. The illustrations are darling and the children can't help but learn the lyrics.

Happy Singing!

O Antiphon "House"

After looking in all the local craft stores for one of those adorable little wooden curio houses for our O Antiphons, I finally decided to make up my own design, all those little houses being apparently used up. I got a wooden plaque from Walmart and Caeli and I painted it gold.

I used eight little matchboxes for the "windows." I used this document for the inserts for each drawer. Seven of them have the O Antiphon for each day printed in script, and the eighth has a lovely image of the Holy Family, for Christmas Day. I cut strips of pretty cardstock to cover each matchbox.

I used a different color for each box.

Then I taped ribbon to the backs of each drawer leaving a little "tail" with which to pull the drawer out. I cut the ribbon long enough to that I can slip it through the matchbox cover and tape it to the back side so that when I pull out the drawer the ribbon will keep it from falling all the way out.

I slipped the ribbon through the opening of the matchbox cover, slipped the drawer in as far as I want it to go when it's opened, and taped the ribbon to the back of the cover. The drawers are going to be pulled downward after their mounted to the plaque, so I inserted the Antiphons oriented for this arrangement.

This picture might make it a little more clear.

Then I folded the strips of deco paper to fit each matchbox and taped it in the back of the cover.

I wrapped ribbon horizontally all the way around the box and taped it in the back. This helps keep the paper in place. Then I inserted ribbon vertically all the way through the opening in the matchbox cover and tied a bow in the front of the box to make it look like a little gift.

Once all the matchboxes were arranged and glued to the plaque, I glued the symbols for each antiphon underneath the closed gift box so that the Antiphon will cover the symbol after I open the drawer.

With all the windows closed you can see the symbols for each antiphon.

Today with the first window open:

Here it is as it will look Christmas morning with all the little windows open.

I hotglued a gold mesh ribbon, tied in a bow, to the back with which to hang it on the wall.

St. Lazarus, brother of Sts. Martha and Mary Magdalene

For a few years now I've thought Lazarus would make a really cool boy's name, but I'm not sure I'm the one to do it. Maybe we'll find out come April. To celebrate the feast of this dear friend of Our Lord, we're making rag wrapped ornaments on Styrofoam eggs, the egg being symbolic of life and the rags an allusion to St. Lazarus's burial cloths.

And for dinner, St. Lazarus Corpses.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

St. Adelaide of Italy

St. Adelaide is the Patron of Large Families (among other things) and Italian so that makes her especially dear to our large, Italian family. To celebrate we're building a Gingerbread Church (or maybe a white chocolate church with our Pampered Chef gingerbread mold) since she devoted much of her life to building and restoring churches and monasteries.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

St. Christiana (Nino)

Make staple-less paper chains to adorn your Christmas Tree in memory of St. Christiana, a slave girl in Iberia, who called upon the power of Christ to heal the sick. (We'll post our own pictures later!)

Happy Day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Feast of St. John of the Cross

We had buckets of matchsticks left over from our Saints of Advent Countdown Calendar so we decided to make a matchstick cross to celebrate the New feast of St. John of the Cross (on the Traditional calendar it's celebrated on November 24, but I had to do something with all these matchsticks!).

We started by burning the tips of about 200 matchsticks. It didn't take as long as we thought it would and made the house smell so nice--that is if you like the smell of burnt matchsticks.

Then I drew the two lines of a cross on a piece of cardboard and glued the first four matchsticks to the lines so that the ends all touched without leaving a gap. Then I glued four more matchsticks in an X shape radiating out from the angles of the cross formed by the first four matchsticks.

Once that's done and the matchsticks are set, the glue relatively dry, you're ready to go to town. Caeli and I took a few minutes to glue all the other matchsticks into place.

We still have to add another row to the top and sides and two more to the bottom.

Then I cut the cardboard around the dried-in-place matchsticks and taped a paper clip to the back for a hanger.

St. John of the Cross, pray for us!

Happy day!