Michaelmas

Michaelmas, also known as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael, the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels is celebrated on September 29. It is one of the four quarter days of the church year, marking the seasons. The others are Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June), and Christmas (25th December).

St Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. As Michaelmas is the time that the darker nights and colder days begin as we edge into winter, the celebration of Michaelmas is associated with encouraging protection during these dark months.

During the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was a great religious feast and many popular traditions grew up around the day, which coincided with the harvest in much of western Europe. In Ireland, finding a ring hidden in a Michaelmas pie meant that one would soon be married. Another old tradition says, “A Tree planted at Michaelmas, will surely not go amiss.”

As one of the quarter days, it was said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid. Since in the old days many debts were paid with a brace of geese, eating goose came to be associated with this day.

It is also a time in the Celtic calendar when families determined what cattle they were going to keep over the winter, and which were to be slaughtered and preserved for food. So today, we celebrate the coming of autumn in this old tradition. Happy Michaelmas!

Quotes about harvest

Nature herself does not distinguish between what seed it receives. It grows whatever seed is planted; this is the way life works. Be mindful of the seeds you plant today, as they will become the crop you harvest.–Mary Morrissey

Inside every seed is the potential for an incredible harvest.–Farrah Gray

The farmer has patience and trusts the process. He just has the faith and deep understanding that through his daily efforts, the harvest will come.And then one day, almost out of nowhere, it does.–Robin Sharma

Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.–Kent Nerburn

Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.–Sharon Kay Penman

The season for enjoying the fullness of life – partaking of the harvest, sharing the harvest with others, and reinvesting and saving portions of the harvest for yet another season of growth.–Denis Waitley

Life is a thing of many stages and moving parts. What we do with ease at one time of life we can hardly manage at another. What we could not fathom doing when we were young, we find great joy in when we are old. Like the seasons through which we move, life itself is a never-ending series of harvests, a different fruit for every time.–Joan D. Chittister

You plant, then you cultivate, and finally you harvest. Plant, cultivate, harvest. In today’s world, everyone wants to go directly from plant to harvest.–Jeff Olson

When so rich a harvest is before us, why do we not gather it? All is in our hands if we will but use it.–Elizabeth Ann Seton

In my belief, a harvest is also a legacy, for very often what you reap is, in the way of small miracles, more than you consciously know you have sown.–Faith Baldwin

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World Tourism Day

Since 1980, we have celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27. The UN chose this date because, on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organization were adopted.

Their official Website states: “Over the past six decades, tourism … has become one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world, benefiting destinations and communities worldwide. International tourist arrivals worldwide have grown from 25 million in 1950 to nearly 1.2 billion in 2015. Similarly, international tourism revenues earned by destinations around the world have grown from 2 billion US dollars in 1950 to 1260 trillion in 2015. The sector represents an estimated 10% of the world’s GDP and 1 in 10 jobs globally.” That’s a lot of traveling!

I have lived in Seattle, which is a top tourist destination as might be expected. But currently, I am staying in a small village in Ireland, where this summer I heard accents from many different countries: Slavic, French, Spanish, American, and British. Tourism accounts for a large percentage of the village revenue.

The theme for 2017 is Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development, which means, tourism should benefit travelers, the host country, and the environment. This is a good rule to follow everywhere but is especially important for developing countries, which have too often been exploited.

Tourism is a wonderful thing, enabling a person to see how different people live and see new sights. It brings in money to the people being visited. But let us travel with a mind open to learning, and a respect for the host country, its people, its customs, and its environment. Let us be good guests and good hosts as we visit and are visited.

Quotes about travel and tourism

The fool wanders, a wise man travels.–Thomas Fuller

The average tourist wants to go to places where there are no tourists.–Sam Ewing

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.–Paul Theroux

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.–Lawrence Block

The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it.–Martin Parr

If we are always arriving and departing, it is also true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.–Henry Miller

Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.–Werner Herzog

I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.–Mary Anne Radmacher

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.–Robert Louis Stevenson

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.–Gustave Flaubert

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.–Benjamin Disraeli

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.–Laozi

The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.–Samuel Johnson

I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.–Bill Bryson

Take only memories, leave only footprints.–Chief Seattle

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.–Susan Sontag

See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream.–Ray Bradbury

One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.–Henry Miller

There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.–Charles Warnera

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National Comic Book Day

On September 25, we celebrate comic books, or simply comics. They have had a varied history, with generations of children growing up on the adventures of Superman and other superheroes, and adults who have tried to censor the literary form. What I appreciate about comics and graphic novels is the way bold artwork and words combine to tell a story.

Although comics had some origins in 18th century Japan and 1830s Europe, comic books were first popularized in the United States during the 1930s. The first modern comic book, Famous Funnies, was released in the United States in 1933 and was a reprinting of earlier newspaper humor comic strips, which had established many of the story-telling devices used in comics.

In the U.S., comic books are generally divided into eras. The Golden Age began with the publication of the first Superman comic in 1938. Those associated with what would become DC Comics were nearly godlike beings who always worked for the good of humanity and helped defeat the Nazis.

The Silver Age began with the publication of stories about The Flash in 1956. This is the time of Marvel, whose Avengers movies have dominated theater screen for the last few years. Marvel heroes are mostly ordinary people who have by some bizarre chance been endowed with superpowers, such as Spiderman.

However, not all comics are only for adolescents. For me, the best of the “comics” is the Sandman series of graphic novels by Neil Gaiman. They tell the story of a group of beings called the Endless, particularly Morpheus, or Dream. The stories are filled with literary allusions and the myths and legends of many cultures. It feels like a world just on the other side of reality, and can be enjoyed as literature and art.

So don’t be afraid to find a graphic novel and dive in.

Quotes about comics and graphic novels

Comic books and graphic novels are a great medium. It’s incredibly underused.–Darren Aronofsky

Personally, I’d never seen a graphic novel. I knew they existed because friends of mine like Jonathan Ross collect them and some very literate and intelligent people really rate the graphic novel as a form.–Stephen Fry

If I had to rank my skills, I have a long way to go before I can write a good graphic novel.–Ted Rall

Expand the definition of ‘reading’ to include non-fiction, humor, graphic novels, magazines, action adventure, and, yes, even websites. It’s the pleasure of reading that counts; the focus will naturally broaden. A boy won’t read shark books forever.–Jon Scieszka

Doing graphic novels is cool! It’s fun! You get to write something, and then see it visually page by page, panel by panel, working with the artist, you get to see it fleshed out.–Anthony Bourdain

I always loved comic books and I’m still a great fan of the graphic novel.–Walter Hill

I am pretty interested in hybrid forms. I love graphic novels and I think there should be more graphic poems in the world.–Matthea Harvey

When you hold a graphic novel in your hands, you’re holding artist blood made ink.–Molly Crabapple

Graphic novel genre become really quite popular. It’s really a big screen film genre that they have successfully moved into the small screen.–Dustin Clare

The graphic novel form really interests me and I like the freedom that format offers.–Walter Hill

People don’t like to say comic so they say Graphic Novel, despite the fact that I don’t think the true Graphic Novel has been written anywhere.–Terry Pratchett

To me any given story has its appropriate form. There might be some story I get involved with that’s begging to be a graphic novel, so that will have to be that way.–Dave Eggers

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Kublai Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Those words, which begin the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Coleridge Taylor, have always fascinated me. Since September 23 is Kublai Khan’s birthday, I decided to write about him today.

The grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan was born in Mongolia in 1215. He was a general and an administrator when his brother died in 1260 when he named himself Great Khan and took control of the empire, which at this time stretched from the Caspian Sea east to the Pacific Ocean. After a civil war with another brother, Kublai eventually emerged victorious in 1264. Ariq Böke surrendered in Shangdu (also known as Xanadu) to Kublai. Kublai moved the capital to near modern-day Beijing, where he was a mainly benevolent ruler, setting up an administrative structure in keeping with local customs, improving infrastructure, implementing religious tolerance and introducing paper money for economic transactions.

Always fascinated by Chinese culture, in 1267 he set out to fulfill the dream of his grandfather and unite China, by subduing the Song Dynasty in southern China. It was a long campaign and involved learning new kinds of warfare, but by 1279, all China was under his control. However, this caused problems, since if he acted like a barbarian foreign conqueror, the Chinese would reject him, but the more he set things up on the Chinese model, the more he alienated his Mongol base. Consequently, the Yuan dynasty that he set up did not long survive his death in 1294. By 1368, they had gone back to Mongolia, but their legacy of a united China remained.

If the stories of Marco Polo are true, he met the Great Khan on his travels.

There don’t seem to be quotes by Kublai Khan, so here are some from his grandfather Genghis. I think they were much of a kind.

If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you

If you’re afraid – don’t do it, – if you’re doing it – don’t be afraid!

The strength of a wall is neither greater nor less than the courage of the men who defend it.

Not even a mighty warrior can break a frail arrow when it is multiplied and supported by its fellows. As long as you brothers support one another and render assistance to one another, your enemies can never gain the victory over you. But if you fall away from each other your enemy can break you like frail arrows, one at a time.

An action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure.

I hate luxury. I exercise moderation… It will be easy to forget your vision and purpose one you have fine clothes, fast horses and beautiful women. [In which case], you will be no better than a slave, and you will surely lose everything.

A leader can never be happy until his people are happy.

Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard.

There is no good in anything until it is finished.

Even when a friend does something you do not like, he continues to be your friend.

One of the joys of travel is visiting new towns and meeting new people.

Heaven grew weary of the excessive pride and luxury of China… I am from the Barbaric North. I wear the same clothing and eat the same food as the cowherds and horse-herders. We make the same sacrifices and we share … our riches. I look upon the nation as a new-born child and I care for my soldiers as though they were my brother.

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World Gratitude Day

Quoting from the official site of World Gratitude Day: “The official beginning of World Gratitude Day was in 1965 at the East-West Center in Hawaii at a Thanksgiving dinner honoring grantees hosted by Sri Chinmoy, a meditation guru.  As director of the United Nations Meditation Group, he suggested the idea as a globally unifying holiday. Each person pledged to hold a gratitude gathering each September 21 in his or her own country. The United Nations Meditation Group formally celebrated World Gratitude Day on September 21, 1977 at the New York Headquarters.”

In today’s world, it may seem at times like we have little to be thankful for. From natural disasters to political disasters to intolerance, poverty, war – you name it – the world can seem a dark and frightening place sometimes. Yet there is hardly ever a day when we can’t find something to be thankful for, even if it’s only life itself, food, shelter, health, or family.

Showing gratitude is helpful in so many ways. It makes the day so much more pleasant for the person giving gratitude and the person receiving it. It helps create positive mental health, and a better outlook on life. It helps create bonds between people. It also helps to keep us from taking things for granted.

Gratitude Habitat suggests these six ways to show gratitude today. I’m sure you can think of many more.

  1. Be courteous and kind. Do something nice for someone.
  2. Say thank you.
  3. Start a gratitude journal.
  4. Write thank you notes, either ones you have been putting off, or to someone who has helped you in the past.
  5. Give back
  6. Pay it forward, or have some have called it, do a random act of kindness.

I’m grateful for all who read these posts. So thank you!

Quotes on gratitude

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.–John F. Kennedy

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.–Oprah Winfrey

Each moment a blessing of abundance, each breath a prayer of thanksgiving.–Michael Rawls

Everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace.–G. K. Chesterton

For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude.–Clarence E. Hodges

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.—Cicero

Gratitude is the memory of the heart.—Massieu

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.–Melody Beattie

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.–Brene Brown

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.–Harold Kushner

Ingratitude is the soul’s enemy… Ingratitude is a burning wind that dries up the source of love, the dew of mercy, the streams of grace.—-Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.–John Greenleaf Whittier

One of life’s gifts is that each of us, no matter how tired and downtrodden, finds reasons for thankfulness.–J. Robert Maskin

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.–A. A. Milne

Take full account of the excellencies which you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not.–Marcus Aurelius

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.–W. J. Cameron

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International Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 19 is a day you either love or hate. Perhaps I spent too much time around the young men who worked at Amazon, but I find International Talk Like a Pirate Day very amusing.

Technically, this celebration started in 1995 when two friends John Baur and Mark Summers were playing racquetball. For some reason, they began doing a running commentary of their game in pirate vernacular. On their official Web page, they describe it thus: “By the time our hour on the court was over, we realized that lapsing into pirate lingo had made the game more fun and the time pass more quickly. We decided then and there that what the world really needed was a new national holiday, Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

For several years, only the two men and a few friends celebrated the holiday, but they happened upon Dave Barry’s email address and suggested he should back the day. (If you don’t know Barry, he is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald, who is widely syndicated.) In 2002, Dave Barry wrote a column, which you can read here, and Speak Like a Pirate Day blossomed into the holiday it has become. Today, it is celebrated around the world as a way to raise funds for charity organizations, such as Childhood Cancer Support and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

So how do you celebrate this important day? Obviously by talking like a pirate, with plenty of “arrrs,” and “ahoy mateys,” and other such. Some folks actually dress like pirates today. Or for a lower keyed celebration, watch a pirate-themed movie, or read a pirate-themed book.

So, me hearties, be sure t’ celebrate this day, and natter on like a pirate!

Quotes about pirates

Some pirates achieved immortality by great deeds of cruelty or derring-do. Some achieved immortality by amassing great wealth. But the captain had long ago decided that he would, on the whole, prefer to achieve immortality by not dying.–Terry Pratchett

There was a single blue line of crayon drawn across every wall in the house. What does it mean? I asked. A pirate needs the sight of the sea, he said and then he pulled his eye patch down and turned and sailed away.–Brian Andreas

I’m no longer a child and I still want to be, to live with the pirates. Because I want to live forever in wonder…. That is what the pirates know. There is only seeing and, in order to go to see, one must be a pirate.–Kathy Acker

If England had not used the services of privateers and pirates during its long struggle with Spain, there is some likelihood that people today in North America would be speaking Spanish rather than English.–Robert Earl Lee

First rule of a pirate’s mate, keep yer eye on yer destination, not yer doom.–Lisa Kessler

A very old man once told me a pirate is always chasing after the horizon, fooling himself into believing he can reach it. It might be gold, it might be freedom, it might even be a girl he’s looking to impress. Always it beckons, beautiful and glorious, but no matter how hard a pirate pushes his ship, it remains just out of grasp.–Matt Tomerlin

“Why would you go on a pirate dinner cruise?” He had to know. Her jaw dropped. “Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t you go on a pirate dinner cruise? There’s pirates and dinner. And you get to say ‘argh’ and ‘matey’ while drinking lots of rum without anyone looking at you funny.” Her breath caught. “Maybe one of them will even have a real parrot!”–Elle Rush

Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.–Mark Twain

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Apple Dumpling Day

September 17, we celebrate Apple Dumpling Day. Though dumplings were originally filled with meat to make an inexpensive meal, people began experimenting with them using fruit. Some of the fruit they put inside them were pears and plums. When people came to the U.S. from northern Europe, they brought their recipes with them, but at first didn’t have access to the fruit they were used to using. So it was in the States that specifically apple dumplings were born. The recipe is often found in Amish cookbooks.

Originally, apple dumplings were boiled and steamed, and the word itself comes from German dampf, meaning steam. Now it is typically baked using Granny Smith or other cooking apples, previously cored and peeled. The crucial spice is cinnamon.

Dumplings are sometimes thought of as little personal apple pies, but at least in traditional recipes, there is a difference. The dough is slightly different, and there is a sauce added to the dumplings as they bake. For a recipe that takes some time, but looks definitely worth it, look on the King Arthur Flour site. The sauce is made by simmering the apple peelings with brown sugar. It can be finished off with a scoop of ice cream on the warm dumpling.

Apple dumplings may be served for either breakfast or dessert. In the U.K., a suet pastry is often used, although shortcrust is also common. (Shortcrust pastry is based on a “half-fat-to-flour” ratio that is, twice as much flour as fat by weight. The fat may be butter, lard, or shortening.).A filling of dates, sultanas, or raisins is often inserted into the cavity left by removal of the core.

So do celebrate today by making or buying apple dumplings, and make this a delicious day.

Quotes about apples

Coleridge holds that a man cannot have a pure mind who refuse apple-dumplings. I am not certain but that he is right.–Charles Lamb

I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream… I know how the nuts taken in conjunction with winter apples, cider, and doughnuts, make old people’s tales and old jokes sound fresh and crisp and enchanting.–Mark Twain

You cannot sell a blemished apple in the supermarket, but you can sell a tasteless one provided it is shiny, smooth, even, uniform and bright.–Elspeth Huxley

If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.–Carl Sagan

Why not upset the apple cart? If you don’t the apples will rot anyway.–Frank A. Clark

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.–Robert H. Schuller

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.–Martin Luther

When the apple is ripe it will fall.–Irish proverb

Almost all wild apples are handsome. They cannot be too gnarly and crabbed and rusty to look at. The gnarliest will have some redeeming traits even to the eye.–Henry David Thoreau

Why do we need so many kinds of apples? Because there are so many folks. A person has a right to gratify his legitimate taste. If he wants twenty or forty kinds of apples for his personal use…he should be accorded the privilege. There is merit in variety itself. It provides more contact with life, and leads away from uniformity and monotony.–Liberty Hyde Baily

I’m not smart, but I like to observe. Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.–William Hazlitt

With an apple I will astonish Paris.–Paul Cezanne

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