29 September 2011

29 September - Michaelmas

Weather: If Saint Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow.  [I wonder what 'many acorns' entails?  I've seen a tidy few under the oak trees - even after the squirrels have plundered among them.]

If Michaelmas day be fair, the sun will shine much in the winter, though the wind at the northeast will frequently reign long and be very sharp.

If Michael's day is quiet and beautiful, it will last for the next four weeks.

If the wind is out of the north on Michael's day, then October will be dry.

On Michaelmas day, the heat leaves us.

A dark Michaelmas, a light Christmas.

St. Michael's rain does not stay long in the sky.

As many days old as the moon is on Michaelmas, so many floods shall we have after. [the moon will be two days old]

If it rains on Michaelmas, it will rain up to Christmas.

If there is a gentle rain on St. Michael's day, we can expect a mild winter; but if there is thunder, winter will have heavy winds.

If it does not rain on St. Michael and St. Gallus (October 16), a dry spring is indicated for the next year.

The winds between 6 a.m and 6 p.m. today foretell the character of the winds in the following year. For example, if the wind during the hour of 8 a.m. is heavy and cold, then March will have heavy weather and cold winds.
The winds between 6 am and 7 am indicate the character of January.
Between 7 am and 8 am, that of February,
Between 8 am and 9 am, that of March,
Between 9 am and 10 am, that of April,
Between 10 am and 11 am, that of May,
Between 11 am and 12 noon, that of June,
Between 12 noon and 1 pm, that of July,
Between 1 pm and 2 pm, that of August,
Between 2 pm and 3 pm, that of September,
Between 3 pm and 4 pm, that of October,
Between 4 pm and 5 pm, that of November,
Between 5 pm and 6 pm, that of December.
[and thank goodness there are only 12 months.]

"If thou wilt see how it will go that year, then take heed of the Oak-Apples about S. Michael's day, for by them you shall know how by them it shall be:
If the Apples of the Oak-trees, when they be cut be within full of spiders, then followeth a naughty year [oooo, that sounds like fun]; 
if the Apples have within them Flies, that betokens a meetly good year; 
if they have Maggots in them, then followeth a good year [and a sudden loss of altitude for the apple];
if there be nothing in them, then followeth a great Dearth; 
if the Apples be many, and early ripe, so shall it be an early Winter, and very much snow shall be afore Christmas, and after that it shall be cold; 
if the inner part or kernel be fair and clear, then shall the Summer be fair, and Corn good also; 
but if they be moist, then shall the Summer also be moist; 
if they be lean, then shall there be a hot and dry Summer."
The Husbandman's Practice, or Prognostication for ever

Traditions: Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day to have money in the coming year.  [One roast goose, coming right up!]  And check the wishbone - a dark one means a severe winter coming; if it is light, winter will be mild.

All blackberries should have been gathered by now, for today the Devil passes his hoof over them (or breathes or spits or pees on them) and scorches them. The legend is that when St. Michael tossed the Devil out of Heaven, the Devil fell to earth and landed in a blackberry bush.  Not comfortable on the best of days, and this was already a bad day for Old Scratch.  In his wrath, he cursed the berries by one of the methods above, so that any still left would be poisonous.  Blackberries only, though.  The other edible berries should be just fine, if the birds haven't beaten you to them.

Love charms: Gather crab-apples, carry them to the loft (an attic will do if you haven't a loft) and form them into the initials of possible suitors.  On Old Michaelmas Day (October 10), see which initials are the most perfect.  These are considered to be the strongest attachments and the best for choice of husbands.

And once you've got your man:
St. Michael's chair is on St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall.  Tradition asserts that any woman who sat in this chair would ever after rule her husband [ladies, try suggesting St. Michael's Mount for this year's vacation.  Your husband may counter with Nice or Majorca instead.]

Gardening: Michaelmas Daisies are one of the joys of my backyard.  They are wild and grow everywhere - lovely violet-colored flowers bravely standing up to the winds of autumn.

The Michaelmas Daisy, amonge dead weeds,
Blooms for St. Michael's valorous deeds,
And seems the last of flowers that stood
Until the feast of Simon and Jude...



Today is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and, originally, the feast of all angels with him.  In the new calendar it is the feast of All Angels without denominating any one in particular.

From Catholic Culture: "... in our Catholic tradition, St. Michael has four duties: (1) To continue to wage battle against Satan and the other fallen angels; (2) To save the souls of the faithful from the power of Satan especially at the hour of death; (3) To protect the People of God, both the Jews of the Old Covenant and the Christians of the New Covenant; and (4) finally to lead the souls of the departed from this life and present them to our Lord for the particular judgment, and at the end of time, for the final judgment."

That's quite a lot of duties.

Saint Michael is the patron and protector of soldiers and law enforcement officers. In his honor, thank your community's finest, if not in person, then with a note to the nearest precinct or a letter to the editor of the local paper.  Another good way to celebrate the day is by a care package and a note of thanks to the troops.  Local associations which provide these will welcome your donations.

Read more about Saint Michael and the traditions for his day (including recipes for Roast Goose, and St. Michael's Bannock) at Fisheaters and at Catholic Culture. [Use the nuts that you cracked on Crack-Nut Sunday in the stuffing]

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael), c1504, Louvre

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who roam about the world seeking the ruin of souls.


26 September 2011

26 September - Crack Nut Sunday

Weather: The weather on the last Sunday of the month indicates the weather for the next month.

For some reason, a custom grew up that on the Sunday before Saint Michael's day (29 September) members of the congregation would fill their pockets and bags with nuts, and then sit in church, cracking the nuts during the sermon.  Goldsmith mentions it in his Vicar of Wakefield (1762) as a custom indulged in by the parishioners, so it had been in place for a while by then.

It seems rather rude.

Granted, there have been sermons during which my mind has wandered into envisioning more enjoyable employments of my time, but at least I have been quiet.  The constant cracking by young and old, even in a small congregation, must have reached the level of a small roar.

Well, I imagine that any parson used to this annual cracking-fest likely offered something inane in the way of a homily (since it wouldn't be heard anyway) and saved his good sermons for the rest of the year.

Still, this seems like a good time to get a start on garnering all those nut-meats that will be needed for your upcoming holiday cooking.  I'm not suggesting that you do this during church services!  Perish the thought!  No, this is good activity for a lazy Sunday afternoon, ensconced in the easy chair watching the game, or sitting around the table in conversation with family.

The nut-meats can be frozen (and should be if you are not planning to use them for a while); see the University of Missouri Extension page for how to freeze, and also how to roast nuts.  The California Walnuts website has a good recipe for Curried Walnuts [oh, yum!]  It takes a heap of pecans for a good pecan pie - it also takes a lot of skill to extract the halves.  Good luck.

And if you are shelling roasted peanuts or pistachios, well, I won't blame you if there are none left at the end of the session to show for your work.  Like harvesting cherry tomatoes from the garden - sometimes they just don't make it to the kitchen counter.

24 September 2011

24 September - Our Lady of Walsingham

Weather: Ember Day - The weather today foretells the weather of December.

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, the patroness of England, whose shrine in Norfolk was a major pilgrimage site until its dissolution in 1538.

The original chapel was built in 1061 when a pious widow received three visions of the Holy Virgin and the house in Nazareth where the Annunciation took place. The lady then built a replica of the Santa Casa on her lands at Walsingham.  Subsequently a priory was established next to the shrine and given to the Canons of St. Augustine; later a large and beautifully appointed church was erected nearby.

Erasmus, in his derisive colloquy "Pilgrimage for Religion's Sake", describes the shrine as "...a small chapel, made of wainscot, and admitting the devotees on each side through a narrow little door.  The light is small, indeed scarcely any but from the wax lights.  A most grateful fragrance greets the nostrils... when you look in, you would say it was the mansion of the saints, so much does it glitter on all sides with jewels, gold, and silver."

Shrines were the tourist hot-spots for centuries, and pilgrimages to them were taken for a variety of motives.  Some pilgrims went with a truly pious intent, seeking the help of the holy figure in affairs of great importance; some traveled more in a holiday spirit, seeing the great sights and collecting souvenirs in the form of badges such as those seen here, from a page in the book of hours by the Master of Mary of Burgundy.  Images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints were stamped on disks of gold, silver, lead and tin, which were then pinned or tacked to the hats and clothes of the shrine's visitors, as a sign to all that they had indeed made the pilgrimage (bumper stickers hadn't been invented yet).

As with all tourist spots, a large economy grew up around the shrines and in communities along the roads leading thereto, which catered to the needs of the travelers.  Inns and hostels provided a roof and meals for those who could afford them; blacksmiths stood by to replace lost horse-shoes or replace a lame horse (the original flat tire) with a new mount; hucksters stood by to relieve the gullible of their money with spurious relics and games of chance; merchants sold goods, some from foreign countries, always tantalizing to the stay-at-home; jugglers and singers provided entertainment along the way. 

This ended as the shrines were suppressed and destroyed (as in England) or lost their value to minds now seeking to be impressed by the Beauties of Nature and the Palaces and Houses of the Great.  The following lament is for the loss of the Shrine, but could be for the loss of jobs it engendered and for the loss of that piety which found its devotion in the House of God rather than the Mansion of a Robber-Baron.

Lament for Walsingham

In the wracks of Walsingham
whom should I chuse
But the Queen of Walsingham
to be guide to my Muse.

Then, thou Prince of Walsingham,
graunt me to frame
Bitter plantes to rewe thy wrong,
bitter wo for thy name.

Bitter was it, oh, to see
the sely sheepe
Murdred by the raveninge wolves,
while the sheepharde did sleep.

Bitter was it to viewe
the sacred vyne,
Whiles the gardiners plaied all close,
rooted up by the swine;

Bitter, bitter, oh, to behoulde
the grasse to growe,
Where the walls of Walsingham
so stately did shewe;

Such were the worth of Walsingham,
while she did stand,
Such are the wrackes as now do shewe
of that holy lande;

Levell, levell, with the ground,
the towres doe lye,
Which, with their golden glittring tops,
pearsed oute to the skye.

Wher weare gates noe gates are nowe,
the wais unknowen;
Wher the presse of peares did passe,
while her fame far was blowen.

Oules doe scrike wher the sweetest himnes
lately wear songe,
Toads and serpents hold their dennes,
wher the palmers did throng.

Weepe, weepe, O Walsingham,
whose dayes are nightes;
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
holy deedes to despites.

Sinne is where our Lady sate,
heaven turned is to helle,
Sathan sittes wher our Lord did swaye,
Walsingham, oh, farewell!

You can read the Lament in modern English here. (although I disagree with one of her conclusions - I think that the "Prince of Walsingham" refers to Our Lord and not to Henry VIII; Henry, of course, would not see any difference.)

There is more about the shrine at "Mary Pages" and at "Walsingham.org".

23 September 2011

23 September - Autumn Equinox; Ember Day

Astronomy: Equinox at 5:05 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time)
Weather:  Ember Day: The weather today foretells the weather of November.

The first three days of any season rule the weather for that season.

As the wind and weather at the equinoxes, so they will be for the next three months.

If the weather is quiet for the week before the autumn equinox and the week after, the temperature will continue higher than usual into the winter.   [okay, so far it has been quiet the week before; let's see how we do after]

As the equinoctial storms clear, so will all storms clear for the next six months.

Winds that blow in the daytime near the equinox generally hush towards evening.

Today is the Equinox of September, which for the northern hemisphere means that we have slipped from summer into fall.  The days and nights are roughly equal for the next few days, but increasingly, the nights will be getting longer.  Already, we have an hour less daylight than at the beginning of the month, and the mornings here have been deliciously cool.

For the lands of the Southern Cross, it is the opposite.  They are leaving winter behind for spring, and their days are increasing in length.

And so it goes.  Here the leaves will turn and become glorious splotches of color.  Soon the signs will go up at the farms selling apples, the cranberries will be floating in their bogs waiting for the harvest, and pumpkins will show up on front porches everywhere.  The old man who sells huge bags of potatoes and onions will take up his accustomed pitch on Wood Street, and I will be down there to get my winter's supply.  The summer produce has been canned or frozen; now it is time for the fruits and vegetables of Fall.

You can read more about the equinox at EarthSky.  The nights are clear now, but not uncomfortable, and sky-watching is enjoyable.  This is a good time to point out the constellations to the kids.

21 September 2011

21 September - Ember Day (Tempora Autumnalia)

Weather - Ember Day: the weather today foretells the weather of October.

A gloriously beautiful day!  Warm, sunny, gorgeous!


The Ember Days, of which these three (today, Friday, and Saturday) are the last of the church year, are three days set aside in every quarter of the year during which we fast and pray, thanking God for his many blessings, and asking for the grace to use them well and in the service of others.

Saturday of the Ember days was traditionally the time to ordain priests, and Dom Prosper Gueranger, in his Liturgical Year, says that we should offer up our fasting and abstinence "for the purpose of obtaining worthy Ministers of the Word and the Sacraments, and true Pastors of the people."

As with other times of the year, when one season slips into another, or one year into the next, or daylight into night, these were considered days in which the dead could return and walk the earth.  Therefore we pray for the holy souls in Purgatory as well.

The other Ember Days are the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after St. Lucy (December 13); the first Sunday in Lent (sometimes February, sometimes March); and Pentecost (most often in May, but not always).  For some reason, however (which has been explained before, but I still don't understand), the autumn ember days, which traditionally are the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Holy Cross (September 14), must, in the new calendar of the church, fall a full week after Holy Cross.  Well, that is the Church's prerogative. She created these days, She can move them around as She pleases. For the purposes of my Book of Days, I tend to follow the old almanacs.

The theme of the autumn Ember days is the harvest of the works of our hands, whether agricultural or spiritual.  A fifteenth century homily tells us to fast "that we may have grace to gather the fruits of God into the barns of our conscience."

According to the medieval Golden Legend, there are different sins assigned to each set of Ember days from which we pray to be delivered.  For the autumn days, the sins are pride and covetousness.

As the autumn is considered cold and dry, we fast to prevent the drought of pride, and the coldness and darkness of ignorance. From the choler of summer with its frenzy of living, we pass to the melancholy of autumn, whose nature is cold and covetous; we pray for the grace to combat that temperment with the fruits of good works.  The summer represents youth; autumn represents the adult, wherein we look at the harvest of our lives - what we have done, and what we have failed to do - and pray for the grace to do better, and for our harvest - our deeds - to be used for the glory of God and in the service of others.

Let us then consecrate to God the season of Autumn and the harvest.

And for fun, read about the Four Temperaments and take the Medieval Personality test.  (The Widow's personality is Melancholic.)

21 September - St. Matthew

Weather - St. Matthew's day bright and clear, brings good wine in the next year   [Come on, sunshine!]
on the other hand

St. Matthew's rain fattens pigs and goats     [Hmmmm... bacon? or wine?... Come on, sunshine!]

St. Matthew makes the days and nights equal    [as does St. Benedict in another six months]

St. Matthew
Brings the cold dew     [which will turn into frost soon enough]

After St. Matthew you will not see many fine days... [pessimist]


A south wind today indicates that the rest of the autumn will be warm   [which is a nice thought for those of us in the northern tier, but for my amiga in Texas who is tired of warm, I hope your wind is out of the north]

St. Matthee,
Shut up the bee    [don't want the little dears to get cold. We'll need them again next spring]

Woodcut from the Golden Legend, c.1489
Today is the Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle, Evangelist and Martyr, writer of the first gospel, and patron of those who deal with money: accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, customs officers, stock brokers, and, of course, Tax Collectors, of which he was one.  His neighbors considered him much as we think of our own IRS agents - complete with horns, tail and a pitchfork - with the added bonus that he Collaborated With The Enemy (that is, Rome).

And this is one of the guys Our Lord chose as a disciple?  Yep.  Comforting thought.  There's hope for us, yet.

17 September 2011

17 September - Saint Lambert; Stoofperen

In the Calendar of the Grande Heures, today is devoted to Saint Lambert of Maestricht, bishop and martyr.  He was born circa 635 in Maestricht [Maastricht] to upper-class parents and given a good education by the saintly priest Landoaldus of the cathedral church, and later by the bishop, St. Theodardus (who may also have been his uncle).  Lambert succeeded him as bishop of Maestricht in 670, but after the murder of the Merovingian king Childeric II, whom he had supported against Mayor-of-the-Palace Ebroin, the de facto ruler of the land, Lambert fled to the Abbey of Stavelot, where he lived for seven years, edifying the monks with his saintly life.

The Golden Legend, always ready with an edifying examples, offered this:
And Lambert entered into a monastery, and was there and conversed seven years goodly. On a night when he arose from prayer, he let wind go behind by ignorance, and when the abbot heard it he said: He that hath done that, let him go out to the cross barefoot. And anon Lambert went out to the cross barefoot in his hair, and was there and went in the snow and in the frost when the brethren chauffed them after matins. And the abbot demanded where Lambert was, and a brother said that he was gone to the cross by his commandment. He did do call him, and then the abbot and his monks required him to pardon them, but he not only pardoned them, but also preached to them the virtue of patience.

Ebroin, according to the chroniclers, finally got his just reward for his wicked ways (he was assassinated in 681).  Lambert was allowed to return to his See of Maestricht and resume his duties there, which he coupled over the next few years with the evangelization of the lands of modern Belgium.  Life would likely have continued in this round of priestly duties, had not something occurred which Lambert could not ignore.

Pepin of Heristal, who had succeeded by conquest to the Mayoralty of all three of the Frankish kingdoms and was the true ruler of Francia, had been married for at least fifteen years to a good woman, the mother of his two sons, when he had the usual mid-life crisis and took up with a mistress, Alpais or Alpaida, who gave him another two sons.  Lambert could not stand by without remonstrating against this unlawful union; he paid a visit to the palace, and Pepin, who was fond of the bishop, received him hospitably.  This was not a good sign to Alpais; she had been working to make her sons the heirs of their father in place of his legitimate children, and if Pepin listened to Lambert's reproaches and agreed to end the relationship, it would be the end of her influence, now and future, as well.

[That one of Alpais' sons was Charles Martel, the Hammer, whose defeat of the Muslims at Poitiers halted their northward expansion, is no argument for sin.  God can bring good out of evil, but we are not supposed to do evil on the off-chance that God will produce good from it.]

Alpais poured out her fears to her brother Dodo [now there's a good name!], who may already have had a grudge against Lambert for the murder of two of his friends by some of the bishop's supporters. Dodo agreed and arranged the assassination. While praying in the chapel of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Liege, Lambert and those at the altar with him were attacked by Dodo's soldiers, who pierced the bishop's heart with a javelin.  His body was conveyed secretly to Maestricht for burial, but St. Hubert, to whom Lambert had been a spiritual director, later moved the saint's remains to his own see city of Liege.

Saint Lambert is a martyr for the sanctity of marriage.  In your prayers today, remember those poor souls who, through cultural influences, have learned to disregard the sanctity of marriage - not only those who commit adultery in their marriage, but those who commit it before, believing that cohabitation and indiscriminate sexual activity are not wrong "because we're in love, and who are you to impose your morality on me?"  Sad souls.  Sad souls.

Maastricht is today the capital of the Dutch province of Limburg, part of the lands whence came the famous and pungent Limburger cheese.  Trust me, it is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who desire a social life.  If you rise above either of those categories, prove your strength with a Limburger Sandwich.  You'll be banned from polite society, or, like St. Lambert, be forced to spend time outside while your companions debate your fitness to return to the haunts of men, but lovers of Limburger care naught for that.

For those more socially inclined, celebrate with a Dutch dessert like STOOFPEREN (Stewed Pears):

Peel and core 12 pears.  Cut them into quarters.

In a large saucepan, mix together 1 cup each of water, dry red wine, and sugar.  Bring mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Reduce heat, add the pears, and simmer until they are almost tender.  Stir in 2 cinnamon sticks and 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon rind, and cook until the fruit is tender.  Serve warm.

14 September 2011

14 September - Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Weather: If there is no rain on Holy Cross, there will be no rain for six weeks. [Which should get us out of hurricane season]
or as the Scots say it:

If the hart and the hind meet dry and part dry on Rood day fair,
For six weeks of rain there'll be nae mair [no more].

If dry be the buck's horn on Holyrood morn,
'Tis worth a kist [chest] of gold;
But if wet it be seen ere Holyrood e'en
Bad harvest is foretold.

There are generally three consecutive windy days about the middle of September.

The feast today, the Exaltation or Triumph of the Holy Cross, commemorates the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in 335, in which was placed a portion of the Holy Cross of Our Lord found by Saint Helena; it also commemorates the recovery of the relic from the Persians under King Chrosoes, and its return to the church in Jerusalem by Emperor Heraclius in 629.

According to the story, the victorious Emperor carried the Cross back to Jerusalem, dressed (of course) in his best clothes.  For some reason, though, he was stopped at the gate and could not move forward.

The Bishop  (or an angel) then told him that even though he carried the Cross, he did not resemble Our Lord, who wore no costly robes or jewels.  Heraclius divested himself of his attire, and barefoot, in penitential garb, carried the Cross into Jerusalem.

As recounted in the Golden Legend: And as he descended from the Mount of Olives and would have entered by the gate by which our Saviour went to his passion, on horseback, adorned as a king, suddenly the stones of the gates descended and joined them together in the gate like a wall, and all the people was abashed. And then the angel of our Lord appeared upon the gate, holding the sign of the cross in his hand, and said: When the king of heaven went to his passion by this gate, he was not arrayed like a king, ne on horseback, but came humbly upon an ass, in showing the example of humility, which he left to them that honour him. And when this was said, he departed and vanished away. Then the emperor took off his hosen and shoes himself, in weeping, and despoiled him of all his clothes in to his shirt, and took the cross of our Lord and bare it much humbly unto the gate. And anon the hardness of the stones felt the celestial commandment and removed anon, and opened and gave entry unto them that entered.

Several ways to celebrate this important feast can be found at Catholic Culture, including recipes for Hot Cross Buns (normally seen on Good Friday, but equally good today).

Gardening: The 'royal herb' Basil is associated with this day, as the story is that Saint Helena found the Cross after digging under a bed of basil.  My recipes using basil are here.

Also, "On Holy Cross Day, vineyards are gay"
This is a traditional day to go nutting.

Chestnuts are starting to drop now, so roasting chestnuts would be a nice late-summer evening activity (go here and here for instructions on roasting).  If you aren't near any chestnut trees (I'm so sorry), you can buy them fresh or in jars.  And then, since 'vineyards are gay' today, enjoy the roasted chestnuts with a glass of port, a delightful tradition I picked up from a Portuguese  neighbor.

11 September 2011

11 September - A Prayer or Two

+ God of peace, bring Your peace to our violent world;
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to Your way of love
those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek Your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost...
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.
Amen +

This is the prayer card given to us today in church, by the Knights of Columbus for their World Day of Prayer for Peace.  It is the prayer of Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero, April 20, 2008.

On the other hand, there is Psalm 108:
Unto the end, a psalm for David.  O God, be not thou silent in my praise: for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful man is opened against me.  They have spoken against me with deceitful tongues; and they have compassed me about with words of hatred; and have fought against me without cause.  Instead of making me a return of love, they detracted me: but I gave myself to prayer. And they repaid me evil for good: and hatred for my love.
  • Set Thou the sinner over him: and may the devil stand at his right hand.  
  • When he is judged, may he go out condemned; and may his prayer be turned to sin.  
  • May his days be few: and his bishopric let another take.  
  • May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.  
  • Let his children be carried about vagabonds, and beg; and let them be cast out of their dwellings.
  • May the usurer search all his substance: and let strangers plunder his labours.  
  • May there be none to help him: nor none to pity his fatherless offspring.  
  • May his posterity be cut off; in one generation may his name be blotted out.  
  • May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered in the sight of the Lord: and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.  
  • May they be before the Lord continually, and let the memory of them perish from the earth: because he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor man and the beggar; and the broken in heart, to put him to death.  And he loved cursing, and it shall come unto him: and he would not have blessing, and it shall be far from him. And he put on cursing, like a garment: and it went in like water into his entrails, and like oil in his bones.  May it be unto him like a garment which covereth him; and like a girdle with which he is girded continually. This is the work of them who detract me before the Lord; and who speak evils against my soul.
But Thou, O Lord, do with me for Thy name's sake: because Thy mercy is sweet.  Do Thou deliver me, for I am poor and needy, and my heart is troubled within me.  I am taken away like the shadow when it declineth: and I am shaken off as locusts.  My knees are weakened through fasting: and my flesh is changed for oil.  And I am become a reproach to them: they saw me and they shaked their heads,

Help me, O Lord my God; save me according to Thy mercy.  And let them know that this is Thy hand: and that Thou, O Lord, hast done it.  They will curse and Thou will bless: let them that rise up against me be confounded: but Thy servant shall rejoice.  Let them that detract me be clothed with shame: and let them be covered with their confusion as with a double cloak.  I will give great thanks to the Lord with my mouth: and in the midst of many I will praise Him.  Because He hath stood at the right hand of the poor, to save my soul from persecutors.

You decide.

11 September - Saints Protus and Hyacinth

Today is the feast of Saints Protus and Hyacinth, martyrs, who died sometime before the 4th century, and who

  • may or may not have been brothers,
  • may or may not have been eunuchs,
  • may or may not have been servants, and
  • may or may not have been beheaded.

From the old (1907) Roman Martyology:
"At Rome, in the Cemetery of Basilla, on the old Salarian road, the birthday of the holy martyrs Protus and Hyacinth, brothers and eunuchs in the service of blessed Eugenia, who were arrested, in the time of the emperor Gallienus, on the charge of being Christians, and urged to offer sacrifice to the gods.  But as they refused, both were most severely scourged, and finally beheaded."

Gallienus ruled as co-emperor of Rome with his father Valerian from 253 to 260, and as sole emperor from his father's capture or death in 260 until his own death in 268.

In 1845, ashes and burned bones wrapped in 'costly stuffs' were found with an inscription which seems to label them as the remains of Hyacinth, leading researchers to believe that one or both of the martyrs were burned to death rather than beheaded.  [On the other hand, there are numerous stories of pagan rulers trying to destroy the bodies of martyrs so that they can not be buried and revered by the faithful.  Perhaps Gallienus burned the beheaded bodies in such a cause.]  That they were brothers may have been an assumption on the part of Pope Damasus, who wrote an epitaph for them.

Although the chapter is entitled "Here begin the lives of SS. Prothus and Jacinctus and Eugenia...", the Golden Legend spends most of its time with the story of Eugenia/Eugene (think 'Victor/Victoria'), giving Protus and Hyacinth walk-on parts.  In this account, they are gentlemen and fellow students of Eugenia in Alexandria, where her father was provost.  Of that, however, Rev. Butler says: "Following a tradition that has eunuchs in the service of women... this elaborate fiction [the Acta of St. Eugenia] makes the eunuch brothers Protus and Hyacinth Eugenia's slaves and parties to her bizarre adventures."

So all that is really known of these two popular saints are their names, and that they were martyrs.

May the glorious martyrdom of Protus and Hyacinth, Thy blessed Martyrs, strength us, O Lord, and let their loving intercession continually shield us. Through our Lord.
[Collect for the feast of Protus and Hyacinth]

09 September 2011

9 September - Saint Gorgonius

Weather: If it is fine on St. Gorgonius' day, it will continue fine for forty days.

If it rains on St. Gorgonius' day, there will be much bad weather in October.

In the old calendar, this is the feast of Saint Gorgonius.  Which Saint Gorgonius, you ask?  Well, I don't know, as the general consensus is that the Saint Gorgonius whose story is told in the Golden Legend and listed in the old Roman Martyrology for today (Gorgonius of Nicomedia) is not the correct Gorgonius for today; and that the correct G-man is Gorgonius of Rome, who is listed in the Martyrology on the 11th of March, which is the real feast day of G. of Nicomedia...

Confused yet?

Well, there is not a whole lot on G. of Rome, so we'll bypass him and go on to Gorgonius of Nicomedia, martyr circa 304 under Diocletian.  The story is that he, Dorotheus and Peter, were high-ranking officials at the court of Diocletian, who were found to be Christians.  This grieved the Emperor no end, as related in the Golden Legend:

"...when the emperor heard that, he was strongly angry, and it did him much displeasure and grievance for to lose such men, which he had nourished in his palace, and were noble of manner and of lineage. And when he saw that he might not turn them by menaces ne by fair words, he did do strain and pain them in the torment of eculee and did all to-rend and break them with scourges and hooks of iron, and to cast in their wounds salt and vinegar, which entered in to their entrails. And they suffered it joyously."

Joyously is not what the Emperor wanted, so he ordered them to be roasted on gridirons a la St. Lawrence, but that didn't work either, so he had them strangled.  Their bodies were rescued and buried by pious Christians; subsequently Saint Gorgonius' body was translated to Rome, and in the 8th century to the French monastery of Gorze (near Metz in Lorraine), whence many churches obtained parts of his remains as relics.

08 September 2011

8 September - Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Weather: As the weather is on the day of Mary's birth, so it will be for four weeks.


"This is a festival celebrated with great joy by the church for the birth of the spotless, holy, beautiful, blessed, and glorious Mary. As the Lily among Thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters: thou art all fair, and there is not a spot in thee"—Cant. iv. 7.

Other than that effusive description of the day from The Perennial Calendar, there is not a whole lot about today in the almanacs.  The old Roman Martyrology writes, "The Nativity of the most Blessed and ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God" before moving smartly along to St. Adrian.

The Golden Legend, which hardly ever misses a chance to embellish a feast-day story, spends a goodly amount of time on the events leading up to her birth (which more properly belong to the feast of her Immaculate Conception on 8 December) and then says "And Anne conceived and brought forth a daughter, and named her Mary."  That's it.

Indeed, most of what is 'known' of Mary's birth comes from two sources, both apocryphal: "The Protoevangelium of St. James" and "The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary".  They make interesting reading, if nothing else, but medieval artists delighted to illustrate each part of the story, as taken from these manuscripts, and several Books of Hours include illuminated episodes as part of the Hours of the Virgin, such as this one here:

Unlike Our Lord, Mary was born in the family home, and the illuminators reflected that, giving us glimpses of the world they knew.  So there is Saint Anne, well-coiffed, resting against her pillows in a handsomely appointed bed (check out that carved headboard) while a neat and trim waiting-maid brings a bowl of something nourishing to revive her after her efforts.

The new-born infant is held by another well-dressed serving-woman, perhaps the midwife, the sleeves of whose gown are rolled up over her elbows to leave her arms bare.  In preparation for the imminent baby-bath, her feet and legs are bare as well, and her gown turned up over her knees.  This woman has bathed babies before!

A less trim (and slightly sluttish) young woman, probably the scullery-maid, uses her over-gown to hold the bucket of warmed water which she pours into the wooden tub.  Her face is rather sour, so she may be the maid who jeered at her mistress Anne for her barren state.

And the baby looks like she already has a vigorous grasp of the loose tendril of hair escaping from the coif of the woman holding her, all part of the details that any parent would recognize.

This is one of only three birthdays celebrated by the Church, the other two being those of Our Lord and St. John the Baptist, and it should not pass with nothing to mark it.  So read the page on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary at Fisheaters and also on Catholic Culture.  Both have suitable prayers to honor Our Lady (The Litany of Loreto, the Little Crown) and suggestions for activities.  I like the idea of a birthday cake, myself.

And this adorable image is  
Maria Bambina

about whom you can read at the History and Devotion to Maria Bambina page.

06 September 2011

6 September - The Mayflower Sails

Weather: As the weather is on the 6th, so it will be for the next four weeks.

Today in 1620, some 102 passengers and 25-30 crew-members set sail from Plymouth, England, bound for (they thought) the northern border of the already established Virginia Colony at the Hudson River.

About half of the passengers were separatists, dissenters from the state church of England, who believed in separate congregations, completely independent of the organized central church, and an end to everything that smacked of Popery - bishops, vestments, incense, decorated churches, saints, holidays, anything non-Scriptural, and most enjoyments.  They were determined to live their penance on earth, always knowing the they might have been already predestined to hell afterward.  Since their beliefs attacked the supremacy of the King as head of the Church in England, the current king, James I (he of the King James Bible), determined to either let them live their lives of penance elsewhere, or to send them on to their afterlife of doom, which ever came first.  A purge of non-conformists to the Anglican church began in 1606, with fines, imprisonment, and exile for those caught.

Knowing this, one group of separatists from Scrooby in Nottinghamshire, who had been meeting in secret (like the papists they regarded with such horror), spent the next year secretly moving themselves and their families to the more tolerant Netherlands, where they felt they could live and worship in peace.  The Dutch welcomed them, they were joined by more of their ilk, and for a time many of the Pilgrims in Search of Religious Freedom (as they considered themselves) flourished there.  However, with economic worries, a desire to propagate their version of the gospel in remote parts of the world, and fears that the agreeable society in which they lived was mitigating the rigor of their religion, they decided to seek a home in the New World, where they could set up a society uncontaminated by outside influences.

After several months of negotiations, a land patent was finally secured from the King in mid-1619, but conflicts within the London Company, which administered the land, meant delays in finding investors and finalizing their plans.  Eventually, though, the group was able to buy one ship, the Speedwell, and procure supplies.  Some thirty Saints crossed from Holland in the Speedwell and met the larger ship Mayflower in Southampton.  The Mayflower, chartered by the merchant investors, carried both Saints and "Strangers" - colonists sent by the Company to look after their investments and report on the likelihood of more.

Both ships sailed on August 5, 1620, but the Speedwell reported a leak and retired to Dartmouth in Devon for refitting.  Again, both ships sailed, and again, the Speedwell reported leaks.  This time they put in to Plymouth in Devon, and eleven people, including the ship's master, transferred from the Speedwell to the Mayflower.  On September 6, 1620, the Mayflower finally quitted Plymouth and sailed for the New World.

An excellent site on the history of this venture, including a list of passengers, biographies, and background, can be found at Caleb Johnson's MayflowerHistory.com.  A recreation of the Mayflower, the Mayflower II,  is part of Plimoth Plantation.  Go aboard and envision 130+ people cramped together for 9 weeks on rough seas.

05 September 2011

5 September - Birth of Louis XIV

Anonymous, Anne of Austria and her son the Dauphin, c.1640
Today in 1638, the future Sun King was born, and called Louis, the Gift of God, which he certainly seemed to be.  His parents, Louis XIII of France and Anne of Austria, had been estranged and living apart for years, and the previous year, when Anne was implicated in treasonous activities against France, looked to be the last of their 22-year marriage.

For the King's weak-willed and irresponsible brother, Gaston d'Orleans, and his court faction, such an end meant the crown would be his when Louis died (and poor brother Louis was never in good health these days).  For Anne, this meant divorce and the remainder of her life spent in a convent, and for the King's Minister, Richelieu, this meant exile (if not worse), as Gaston was an implacable enemy to both.  Things didn't look good.

However, as the story goes, one dark and stormy night, after a day in the country visiting a friend, Louis elected to spend part of the night with the Queen at her apartments in the Louvre, rather than ride further on to his own apartments at the castle of Blois.  That little intervention did the trick, and soon the King and Queen were congratulating each other.

Anne, who would celebrate her 37th birthday on the 22nd of September, removed to the Chateau Neuf at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, where the air was considered more wholesome than that of Paris.  The Princesses and ladies nominated to be present at the birth joined her on the 1st of September, as did the Princes of the Blood and other interested parties.  At about two o'clock in the morning of the 5th, Anne felt her first labor pangs, but kept it a secret from all except her chief tire-woman and the mid-wife.  A couple of hours later, she sent for the Bishop of Lisieux and asked that a Mass be celebrated in her room.  That ended, word was taken to the King of the approaching event, who commanded that his medical staff take their places in an adjoining salon.

At six o'clock, the eight ladies whose birth or position gave them the right to be present in the Queen's chamber, entered and took their seats.  Another thirteen personages of rank and position moved into the adjoining apartment.  Here they waited for the next five hours, while messages went back and forth, and Masses for the queen's safe and speedy delivery were said.

Engraving by Abraham Bosse, 1638.
 Hardly had the King, at the entreaty of his wife, sat down to his usual mid-morning collation, than the news was brought that the Queen was near her time.  As Louis entered the chamber, one of the Queen's women met him at the door and placed his new-born son, already vigorously crying, in his arms.  Everyone gave thanks on their knees to God, and the Queen fainted. She revived enough to offer her congratulations to her husband and to receive his in return.

The baby was immediately and privately baptized by the Bishop of Meux and given the name of Louis (as was customary, his public baptism would be celebrated later).  The King and court proceeded to the chapel of the castle to hear a Te Deum and a Pontifical Mass.  Afterward, the King returned to his wife's chamber, while M. le Dauphin was escorted to his own apartments in the arms of his nurse.  While Paris and the provinces went wild with rejoicing, missives announcing the birth were dispatched to the crowned heads of Europe.  Among them was the King's announcement to the Pope, Urban VIII:

"Very Holy Father - as it has pleased Almighty God always to give us grace to overcome tribulations contrary to the peace of our realm, we ever maintained a good hope that He would at length confer upon our royal consort and ourself, the one remaining blessing so ardently desired by our subjects.  God has at length granted us a son, which the Queen has brought forth safely.  As this child has been given to us many years after our marriage, we regard his birth as a special benediction from God, bestowed upon us and upon the Queen; and whilst we return thanks, and while our subjects throng the churches for the same object, we have thought good thus to address your Holiness.
Your devoted son,

Upon the death of Louis XIII in May of 1643, the four-year old Dauphin became the Most Christian King, Louis XIV of France and Navarre.  You know the rest of the story, and if not go here and here. This site has lots of great images.

The proper toast for so auspicious an occasion should be with Louis XIII Cognac (Remy-Martin).  However, as $500 will get you enough for a shot-glassful, any good cognac will do.

Vive le Dauphin!

5 September - Labor Day

Today, the first Monday in September, the United States celebrates Labor Day.  So drink beer (the working man's tipple) and celebrate all those who fought - and sometimes died - for decent wages and working conditions.

This year, in my research for my parish's history, I came across newspaper articles from 1866, announcing that labor unions were forming in town to push for the ten-hour day.  The local paper was in favor of this, as the usual work-day of twelve- to fourteen-hours, SIX days a week, left no time for the workers to engage in rest and recreation, which the editors deemed necessary for physical, mental, and moral health.  Nor could they work toward bettering themselves by attending evening schools.  The newspaper bemoaned that factory owners calling themselves Christians, who had actively denounced the former slavery in the Southern States, treated the people in their factories as little more than slaves; the editors applauded all efforts to redress such wrongful treatment.

(Of course, it didn't help that the workers here were mostly immigrants, without rights of any kind - and that, in the Smallest State, naturalized citizens were denied the right to vote until 1888.  The 15th Amendment didn't apply to them.)

04 September 2011

4 September - Saint Rosalia

Today is the feast of Saint Rosalia (date of death unknown, but most accounts say c. 1160), a patron of Sicily, and especially of Palermo, which she (actually her relics) delivered from the plague in the 1620s.

There is no surviving account of her life before the late 16th century, when a story of sorts was cobbled together from traditions and paintings.  In it, she is a beautiful young noblewoman of Sicily (and a descendant of Charlemagne), much sought after by the highest born young men of the land, but fearing for her soul, she renounces her life of wealth and position and instead seeks one of penance and prayer in a mountain cave.  Her first hermitage was on Mount Coscina, near Bivona; next she moved to Mount Pellegrino.  Here she lived and died alone, and was pretty much forgotten.

Until a plague ravaged Palermo in 1624, when she appeared in a vision or dream to various people (one account says a hunter, another says a monk, still another says a soapmaker) and told them where to find her remains.  If her bones where taken to the stricken city and carried around in procession there, the plague would end.  No need to ask twice!  They found the cave with her bones and other relics, gathered them up, and carried them in solemn procession.

And the plague stopped.  The grateful populace venerated her as their patron saint, depositing her relics in a sumptuous sarcophagus in the cathedral, and building chapels in her two mountain hideaways.  An exuberant festival celebrating the finding and translation of her relics is held in Palermo on or around July 14 (or in the first week of June as at Santo Stefano Quisquina); another festival celebrating her natale day is held around now.

(Brewer, in his Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, snidely remarks that she "was carried by angels to an inaccessible mountain, where she lived for many years in the cleft of a rock, a part of which she wore away with her knees in her devotions. If anyone doubts it, let him know that a rock with a hole in it may still be seen, and folks less sceptical have built a chapel there, with a marble statue, to commemorate the event.")

Sir Walter Scott, describing a pilgrim who has spent years visiting every shrine and relic, refers to the chapel of Saint Rosalia in his poem "Marmion":

"That grot where olives nod.
Where, darling of each heart and eye
From all the youths of Sicily
St. Rosalie retired to God."

Whatever her origins, Saint Rosalia was a person who found it impossible to hear God in the noise of her fashionable life, and so left it to live and listen in silence.  Silence is a rare commodity today.  From the first ringing of the clock alarm, to the constant blaring of television and radio, the public conversations on cell-phones, the muzak in stores, just the bustle of daily life - there is no silence.  To sit alone and listen to God is not impossible, but it takes a greater discipline than most people have to shut off the noisemakers and retire, even for an hour, to a place of quiet.  They want to, but... they can't shut off the cell phone because someone - you know - might need to get in touch with them.  They want to, but... the children need to be ferried to their various activities.  They want to, but... they absolutely must know what is going on in the world today, and which talking head is saying what, and in between that, there are cooking shows to watch.

Rosalia wanted - needed - that silence, and turned her back on everything which interfered with it.  In her honor, set aside a time of silence in your day.

According to "The Front Burner" celebratory dishes for today include a Gelo di melone, or Watermelon gelatin  (a recipe for which you can find here), and Cassata, described as "Ricotta cream studded with chocolate and candied citrus, encased in a rum soaked sponge cake, topped with lemon icing, and wrapped up in pasta reale - Sicily's own marzipan." (Yum)

The author has also invented a nice little watermelon cocktail, christened "La Rosalia" in honor of the saint, which looks wonderfully cool for these still warm days of late summer.

Barring either of those, enjoy some of the last chilled watermelon of the season.  The fruits of autumn cometh shortly.

Artwork: Anthony Van Dyke, Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-stricken of Palermo (1624). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

02 September 2011


Is there anything more beautiful than the deep sapphire blue of a September sky?

Grape picking time!
"The name comes from the Latin septimus, "seventh," because under the ten-month calendar, and afterwards under the reckoning which made March the beginning of the year, September was the seventh month. After July and August (originally Quintilis, "fifth," and Sextilis, "sixth") had been so named in honor of Julius Caesar and Augustus, several Roman Emperors sought to give their names to September, but in this case the innovation did not survive.  Julius Caesar gave September thirty-one days in his revision of the calendar, but it was subsequently reduced to thirty days by Augustus, who changed the length of all the months after August in order to give his titular month the same length as July."

"The Saxons called September Gerstmonath, or Barley-Month, this crop, from which their favorite beverage was brewed, being then gathered. It is still called Herbstmonat, or Harvest Month, in Switzerland. The harvest-moon comes in this month, being the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox.  For several evenings the moon rises near sunset, thus enabling the harvesters to extend their day's work." William Shepard Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, p. 873 (1898).

Marry in September's shine
Your living will be rich and fine.

Astronomy for September: The full moon this month, on the 12th, is known as the Harvest Moon.

The Autumnal Equinox takes place at 5:05 am on September 23rd.

Ember Days: September 21, 23, and 24

Weather for September
Based on the 12 Days of Christmas: Foggy and drizzly, still warm.
Based on the first 12 days of January: Warm to begin with, then colder.
Based on the Ember Days: Overcast with some showers, and very warm.

So 'warm' seems to be the watchword this month.
Weather Lore for September
September blow soft,
Til the fruit's in the loft.

As September, so the coming March.

When September has been rainy, the following May is generally dry; and when May is dry, the following September is apt to be wet.

A wet September means drought for next summer, famine, and no crops.
Heavy September rains bring drought.
on the other hand
Rain in September is good for the farmer, but poison to the vine-growers.
September rain is good for crops and vines and much liked by the farmer.
[I think it depends on how much and how heavy the rain]

If the storms of September clear off warm, all the storms of the following winter will be warm.

If a cold spell occurs in September and passes without a frost, there will be no frost until the same time in October.

Thunder in September indicates a good crop of grain and fruit for the next year.

9/1 - Fair on September 1st, fair for the month

9/6 - As the weather is on the 6th, so it will be for the next four weeks.

9/8 - As the weather is n the day of Mary's birth, so it will be for four weeks.

9/9 - If it is fine on St. Gorgonius' day, it will continue fine for forty days.

         If it rains on St. Gorgonius' day, there will be much bad weather in October.

9/14 - No rain on Holy Cross, no rain for six weeks.

          If dry be the buck's horn on Holyrood morn,
          'Tis worth a kist [chest] of gold;
          But if wet be seen ere Holyrood e'en,
          Bad harvest is foretold.

           If the hart and the hind meet dry and part dry on Rood Day fair,
           For six weeks, of rain there'll be nae mair [no more].

           There are generally three consecutive windy days about the middle of September.

9/15 - September 15th is fine six years out of seven.

9/19 - If on September 19th, there is a storm from the south, a mild winter may be expected.
[If on September 19th, there is a storm from the south, it is liable to be a hurricane]

9/20-22 - September 20, 21, and 22 rule the weather for October, November, and December.

9/21 - St. Matthew's day bright and clear
           Brings good wine in the next year.

           St. Matthew
           Brings the cold dew.

           On St. Matthee,
           Shut up the bee.

           After St. Matthew you will not see many fine days.

           A south wind on September 21st indicates that the rest of autumn will be warm.

9/22 - If there is clear weather on St. Maurice's day, heavy winds will rage in the following winter.

9/23 - The first three days of any season rule the weather for that season.

           As the wind and weather at the equinoxes, so will they be for the next three months.

            If the weather is quiet for the week before the autumn equinox and the week after, the temperature will continue higher than usual into the winter.

            As the equinoctial storms clear, so will all storms clear for the next six months.

             Winds that blow in the daytime near the equinox generally hush towards evening.

9/29 - On Michaelmas day, the heat leaves us.

           If St. Michael brings many acorns, Christmas will cover the fields with snow.

           A dark Michaelmas, a light Christmas.

           If it rains on Michaelmas, it will rain up to Christmas.

           As many days old as the moon is on Michaelmas day, so many floods shall we have after.

            If Michaelmas day be fair, the sun will shine much in the winter, though the wind at the north-east will frequently reign long and be very sharp.

             If there is a gentle rain on St. Michael's day, we can expect a mild winter; but if there is a thunderstorm, the winter will have heavy winds.

            If it does not rain on St. Michael and St. Gallus (October 16), a dry Spring is indicated for the next year.


September rain is good for the crops.

9/1 - St. Giles finishes the walnuts.

9/14 - it was traditional to go nutting today.  Also, the passion-flower is said to bloom around this time.  The flower is said to present a resemblance to the cross, the nails, and the crown of thorns, used at the Crucifixion.

9/29 - Pick your blackberries before Michaelmas.  The Devil passes his hoof over them (or something nastier) and scorches them today.

The 1816 Almanac advises the farmer to "Plant Liquorice Roots about two Feet asunder, in rather moist Earth.  Set Artichokes, and sow Seeds for Winter Herbs.  Sow Wheat and Rye.  Cut Quicks towards the End of the Month.  Plant Evergreens.  Sow Parsnips and Carrots in a free open Air, and rather moist Soil.  Remove and set Slips of Flowers.  Set Rows of Strawberries and Barberries.  Gather Fruits as they ripen, on a dry Day, and lay them up carefully.  Prepare Ground for planting."

Artwork: "September" from The Tres Riches Heures of Jean, Duc de Berri, c. 1440.

Now I know...

After the annoyance that was Hurricane Irene, I have found that should all power cease, I will probably turn homicidal within five days.

That is not quite fair.  I managed to survive without power for five days (I know to fill up the bathtub and every available pot, pan, and large bowl with water, also to garner as many jugs of drinking water as I can), but it was listening to the neighbors' generators that made me search out the rifle from its hiding place (by flashlight) and whatever shells I could find.  They (the generators) are all LOUD; that is a given.  But one of them sounded like an idling lawn-mower.  RUMMMMMrummrummm.. put.. put.. put.. RUMMMMMMrummrummm... put.. put.. put...

There must be something against the Geneva Convention about forcing a person to listen to that for 100+ hours!

And for all you cynical types: No, it wasn't because my neighbors with their loud, obnoxious generators could watch television or access the files on their computers, and certainly weren't worried about the food in their freezer thawing.  Nor was it because they could still get water for cooking and washing dishes and flushing toilets, without checking the jugs to see how much water was left, and determining which pots of water could be used now... but if the power doesn't come on tomorrow, I'm screwed...  No indeed.  I've been camping.  I know how it works to have nothing but a camp lantern to see by, and to find a bush in which to do one's business, and to wake up with the sun (horrible thought) and go to bed with the same.  I am not jealous.  My ancestors lived like this, and so can I!

(Pay no attention to that man installing a generator.)