Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Leap Year Tale...Or How Not to Become Apprenticed to a Pirate

The Pirates of Penzance, a comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, tells the story of Frederic.  When he was but a lad, he was apprenticed to a band of pirates by his nurse, who was hard of hearing and mistook the word "pilot" for "pirate." 

At last, having completed his 21st year, Frederic is released from his apprenticeship to the band of tender-hearted pirates and is ready to join respectable society.

He meets Mabel, who is the daughter of Major-General Stanley.  The two fall instantly and madly in love.

Frederic discovers, however, that he was born on February 29th - Leap Day.  Technically, he has only had one birthday every four years.  His apprenticeship indentures state that he must remain apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday... meaning he has 63 years to go. 

Bound by his  sense of duty, Frederic comforts himself with the fact that 1) the pirates are tender-hearted and 2) Mabel agrees to wait for him faithfully.

Some Leap Year pirates here.

A Leap Year Quiz.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ode to a Cocker Spaniel

There was a fine pup named Nathaniel,


The best kind of best Cocker Spaniel.

He'd fetch ball or frisbee or can-iel,

Was best friend to woman and man-iel,

Of suppertime was a great fan-iel 

And lived life according to plan-iel.

Doggie charms on etsy and eBay.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Polar Bear Day!

Honest!  According to the Environmental Defense Fund, February 27th is International Polar Bear Day. 

So here are some polar bear facts to help celebrate.

Baby polar bears are born in the shelter of the mother's den. After feeding all summer long to build up reserves her instincts tell her to build a her nest in the fall. Dens are normally dug by the mother's front and hind paws in snowdrifts or snow covered hills near the coast or in snow ridges.

Despite the fact that they are built in the snow, the dens provide the cubs protection from the wind, cold, and predators. Most common predators are Arctic foxes and other polar bears, especially adult males. The den is warmer than the outside due to the heat generated by the bears. The snow traps air molecules and acts as insulation.

Polar bear cubs spend the majority of their early childhood days in the safety of the den to stay warm and to bond with their mother. The cubs typically nurse for 12 to 18 weeks. However longer periods have been recorded depending on the number of siblings, season length, and factors in the environment that effect food sources.

The mother's milk is very nutritious and the cubs grow rapidly in size and weight. A newborn baby is ready to eat solid food in just a few months. They grow their own new fur within approximately 8 to 10 weeks, although it can take up to 14 weeks. The cute pups begin to resemble their mother and will soon copy her habits.


After about 3 or 4 months polar bear cubs venture outside the den with their mother. Combined with their instincts, they learn survival and hunting skills from their mother. The pups stay close to "mom" wherever she goes. Once they take their first dip in the ocean, they become acclimated to the water quickly and become good swimmers.

Mother polar bears show their cubs how to stalk prey that is on the surface. They keep their heads low and blend with the snow drifts. They use stealth to follow their prey and then rapidly advance when the opportunity is right. Seals in particular are very vulnerable when they are cut off from their escape hole back in to the water. The baby polar bears observe and follow their mother during the hunt as they will have to do for themselves once they reach adulthood.

The reproduction cycle of the female polar bear is only about every two or three years. Because of the long time period population growth is slow. The mother will expect her cubs to live on their own before the next cycle begins. Sometimes a little encouragement is necessary to graduate them to independence.

Accurate information on adulthood survivability of baby polar bears is not readily available due to the difficulty in tracking cubs over their lifetime. Some surcome to starvation, predators, or interference with mankind.

Polar bear charms on eBay and etsy.  Buy one today and I'll send the entire purchase price to the Environmental Defense Fund to assist their efforts to continue the fight to save the Polar Bear from the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mystical Magical Shamrocks

In ancient times the shamrock, a watercress, was believed to have sacred and mystic powers. Those who ate it received the power to see fairies, and in the earliest times the plants were said to be aphrodisiacs, especially for women.

Magical shamrocks here and here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Flying Pigs Are Coming! The Flying Pigs Are Coming!

It's official.  Today is the day that pigs fly.  So attempt the impossible.  Embrace the improbable.   Anything is possible.


Embrace your own flying pig here.

My etsy treasury of flying pigs can be found here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cry of the Banshee

by Alice Guerin Crist
1876-1941, written in 1921

As we came down the old boreen,
Rose and I – Rose and I,
At vesper time on Sunday e’en,
We heard a banshee cry!

Beyond the churchyard dim and dark,

‘Neath whispering elms, and yew-trees stark,

Where our star shone-a corpse-like spark-
Against the wintry sky.

We heard and shuddered sick with dread,
Rose and I- Rose and I,
As the shrill keening rang o’erhead
Where cloud-wrack floated high.


Our two young hearts long, sorely tried,
By poverty and love denied
Still waiting for some favouring tide,
And now! Death come so nigh.


‘Which of us two is called away
You or I-You or I?”
I heard my patient poor love say,
With bitter plaintive sigh.


‘Neither, dear girl,” I bravely said,
‘To Mary Mother bow your head,
And cry for help to Her instead,
Nor heed the Banshee’s cry’.


We raised our hearts in fervent prayer,
Rose and I-Rose and I,
Nor knew our troubles ended there,
Our happiness came nigh.


For ‘twas the grim old farmer, he-
My only kin, rich, miserly,


Who, dying left his wealth to me-
For whom the banshee cried.


The pendant necklace on a 24" beaded strand, filled with Celtic imagery, can be purchased here.

Banshee pendant created by Tanya Bond
Kirkby Lonsdale, churchyard 

Chillingham Yew Trees
Winter Sky