There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie


Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.
~Rumi

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

IROQUOIS PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING


We return thanks to our mother,
The earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams
Which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines
For the cures of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters,
The beans, the squashes, which give us life.
We return thanks to the bushes and trees,
Which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind,
Which, moving in the air, has banished diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and starts,
Which have given us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
That has protected his grandchildren from witches and reptiles,
And has given us the rain.
We return thanks to the sun,
That he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
In whom is embodied all goodness,
And who directs all things for the good of his children.


THE IROQUOIS NATION is a nation of first peoples of North America made up of six nations that called themselves The Ganonsyoni.  The five, and later six, tribes came together as a League of Iroquois, which means the league of peace and power.  The legend is that two men, Dekanawida or The Great Peacemaker, and Hiawatha came together to bring The Great Law of Peace to the fractional tribes.
Their great nation stretched from Canada, down through the Great Lakes, and through the Allegheny mountains into Kentucky and Virginia. They also celebrated a great harvest festival of Thanksgiving.




Sunday, 24 November 2013

Of Tortoises and Colleges

Change in Oxford moves at a snail's pace or slower, if that's possible.  To give you some idea, New College is still called New College, even though it was founded in 1379.  I once read a short story by one of the Turl Street Writers, Linora Lawrence, called The Tortoises of Turl Street.  The tortoises run shops on Turl Street, live in Balliol College, and end up tunneling under Broad Street to get about between colleges.  Slowly, ever so slowly, at a tortoise's pace of course, they move through the underpinnings of the University, slow to react, slow to change, plodding on as tortoises do.


Lincoln College Quad

Because change in Oxford is measured over centuries, rather than decades, there are habits, traditions, and rules that people follow and cling to, while having no clue why.  There's an unyielding rule that runs through every college except Hertford, that no one is allowed to walk on the grass in college quads except *fellows......and the Queen.  Tourists step off the paths in the college quads at their peril, because college porters will let no infraction of this rule go unnoticed.  There are myths and stories surrounding this rule, but no one really knows the reason why and I doubt this rule will ever change.  One day it will only be fellows and King George who can walk on the college lawns.

One of our frequent guests, a student at New College in the 1940's, told us a story that I think perfectly illustrates the tortoise-like pace of change in Oxford.  A group of fellows were discussing at length the plan to install baths/showers in the student quarters.  One of the more senior fellows, who had been snoozing with a pipe in the corner and who no one thought was paying any attention, suddenly said "A bath?!?  A bath for the students???  Why they're only here eight weeks!!"

After living in Oxford for awhile now, I understand the plodding tortoise pace at which the colleges function, and it didn't surprise me at all when I came across the following New College rules:
New College Lane

*Members of the college are to speak Latin at all times.
*Members of the college are not to keep a dog, ferret, hawk, or any other bird of prey.
*Members of the college are to attend mass every day clad in gown and cowl and fur-lined hood, and reciting Ave Maria 50 times on bended knee.


*Members of the college are not to make comparison between men of the south, the north, and of Scotland. 
*After dinner graduates and fellows may return to work, but undergraduates are to go straight to bed.
*Members of the college who break these rules may be denied food.

...........and luckily, even though these rules are still on the books they aren't enforced, or every student at New College would be gaunt, thin, and pale having been 'denied food' for weeks.  And, as far as I know thank goodness, there have been no recent skirmishes between the 'men of the south, the north, and of Scotland'.

*A fellow is an incorporated member of the University, including professors, researchers, and visiting professors.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

THE CHRISTMAS TREE IS
UP IN THE OLD SCHOOLS QUAD

OF THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY,
IN TIME FOR THIS WEEKEND'S
CHRISTMAS LIGHT CELEBRATION

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Covered Market at Christmas





Oxford's Covered Market has been standing, tucked between Market Street and the High Steet, for over two hundred years. Throughout the year it's filled with the sights and smells of flowers, butchers, fish-mongers, bakers, leather shoes, and Cotswold Lavender.  Whenever I'm out shopping, even though I might not need anything from any of the shops, I walk through just for the wonderful smells.  








As I walk in off Market Street, Cardew's on the left greets me with a heady mixture of Earl Grey, Darjeeling, and delicate coffee smells.  Then Brown's Cafe on the right mixes in it's all day breakfast, followed by the Oxford Cake Shop's vanilla and marzipan.









It's a magical spot all through the year but it's at Christmas that the market really shines and comes alive.  As the season of Advent begins, the halls of the market start filling with lights, Christmas trees, and red-bowed wreaths.  With each week the bustle increases and the racks that hang from the ceiling over the butcher shops start to fill with fat geese and turkeys that would make Bob Cratchet's children clap with joy.  As Christmas draws closer even wild boar, that will grace a college high table, will appear at a butcher's door, as well as venison.  By the time Christmas arrives, the market feels like stepping back into the world of Dickens, and you almost expect to see Tiny Tim and Bob coming around a corner.

The Christmas Lunch Cake

One of the most popular shops is the cake shop at the north-east corner of the market, where they craft very special, one-of-a kind cakes for weddings and celebrations.  Their artistry has grown in the past 25 years since they opened, and the windows are often lined with tourists taking pictures and marvelling at their skill, crafting cakes that look too beautiful to cut into.

An entire afternoon can easily be spent wandering through the halls, from tasting luxury chocolate to getting a haircut, and from trying on a pair of riding boots to buying Oxford Blue Cheese.  Savour the smells of loose-leaf tea at Cardew's and try on a hat at The Hat Box.  At the end of the day treat yourself to one of Ben's marvellously hot and fresh cookies or sit down for a cup of afternoon tea at Brown's Cafe.

The Market is located between the High Street & Market Street, and Turl & Cornmarket Street.  Opening hours are Monday-Saturday 9am-5:30pm, and Sundays 10am-4pm.