Saturday, May 12, 2007

Da Vinci Horse Manure

There was a medieval 'fayre' on the grounds of Rosslyn Chapel this afternoon. It's only a couple of miles down the road from where I live. We've had a few weeks of great weather - generally our quota for the year - and we decided to chance it. It was rained-out, of course, and we huddled under umbrellas and queued for a burger and watched the rather sad spectacle of damp folk in period costume pretending to fight with swords. A number of people took refuge over at the Chapel itself with its new Welcome Centre and Souvenir Shop. The Rosslyn Trust has spent a lot of money on the place since 'the film' came out and people are flocking to the site from around the world. Here it is only May and there were already several cars in the parking lot sporting number plates from other countries. It now costs £7 to visit. There were three of us and it seemed a little steep just to stay dry. Members of the Scottish Episcopal congregation which actually meets in Rosslyn Chapel on Sunday mornings were in one of the tents outside running a cake stall - overpowered by the bright colours and heraldry of an adjacent stall with a group pretending to represent the Knights Templar. I didn't see much evidence of communication between them. It was that sort of day.

The owners of the neighbouring farm who share an access with Rosslyn Chapel have presumably had their fill of the esoterica addicts all filing up the lane wearing newly-purchased tartan scarves and announcing proudly that their grandparents were 'Scotch' (or perhaps French and therefore indirectly related to Mary Magdalene). The sign above, which they placed at their gate in full view of the tourists, pretty well sums up the situation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Rotating Celestial Bodies

The music is from the String Quartet #2 by Alan Hovhaness

Something I didn't know:

Every planet in our solar system except for Venus and Uranus rotates counter-clockwise as seen from above the North Pole; that is to say, from west to east. This is the same direction in which all the planets orbit the sun. Uranus was likely hit by a very large planetoid early in its history, causing it to rotate "on its side," 90 degrees away from its orbital motion. Venus rotates backwards compared to the other planets, also likely due to an early asteroid hit which disturbed its original rotation.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Janos Starker - Still Alive

I heard Starker play Kodaly's complete Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello at the Banff Festival in 1976. Why is the Third Movement here today? Apart from it just seeming like a 'cello sort of day' here in Penicuik, it was a day of 'putting pieces together'. Rostropovich died a few weeks back so I've been thinking about cellists. Madpriest has been talking about ferrets. So I'm thinking about cellists and ferrets. What unites cellists and ferrets? Well, sir, I wrote a story once upon a time which contained both Janos Starker and a ferret. It was prompted by the concert I saw at the Banff Festival - the way Starker lifts his bow at the end of the movement as if to tell you that the piece of music is over - as if you might not know. I had come down to the Banff School of Fine Arts after having finished high school in the Yukon Territory - not exactly Canada's cultural heartland. I felt terribly outclassed by everybody there at the School and imagined that these little cues were meant for dummies like me. Years later I wrote the story. It still needs some work.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dog Blogging
(with side-order of chicken)

It's been done elsewhere, I know, and with great effect! Fellowship and bonhomie ensue, people comment and say nice things that I don't deserve just because I have a cute mutt. This is Clio. I know it's a cat's name (or maybe a car's name) but it seemed to fit and she answers to it. I've made terrible decisions over the years but Clio (the dog not the name) was one of the better ones.

I'm not clever enough to add captions so this is probably pretty low-class dog blogging. I know where the start button is on my computer and the Blogger software basically writes my posts for me.

But I am awfully proud of my Labrador Retriever - the bane of rabbits, pheasants and postmen - but comparitively well behaved with chickens and sheep. Okay, one small fatal glitch with my favourite Speckledy hen Christmas before last. Unpleasantness and much chiding followed. Okay - and one small pursuit of sheep but she was led astray by another more feral dog. She's almost three years old and is awaiting a hip X-ray to see if we're going to go the way of puppies or not. Three's a good age for motherhood.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Mstislav Rostropovich
March 27, 1927 – April 27, 2007