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Here’s A Health–Life of late, feat. rediscoveries, an anniversary, a ballad sing, and a festival

Hello hello my friends and how doth thee?!

^that is too enthusiastic a greeting for this blog for sure.

Ahem. Good afternoon. Or good evening. Or should I say Guten Nacht…

Um yeah so I’ve been up to stuff lately and I’m here to talk about it.

That’s the intro. Tallyho.

A Book I’ve Been Meaning to Read for Literally Forever and Still Have not Finished

That be The Book Thief. I finally got it from the library of late and have been ever so slowly working my way through it. And I love it. A lot. It’s really good stuff.

Of course, being the ‘bighearted tyrant that I am’, the idea of a book narrated by Death is just *chef’s kiss*. Add to that history–any kind of history, but WW2 is extra good–and I will be pleased. Also, the writing style in the book is very unique. In a very good way. I’m really quite fond of it. Thusfar. It may do something to lose my fondness later, but considering the things I’ve heard some trusted book bloggers say about it, I kinda doubt it. So that’s a thing and I like it muchly.

The Series That I Realized I Really Should’ve Included On My ‘Underrated Books’ Post

Why does nobody talk about All the Wrong Questions??!!!

I mean. Seriously. A Series of Unfortunate Events, from what I can tell (I’ve got several books into the series but have no real intention to continue it at any point) seems to be just that–Unfortunate Events. Written in a charming and amusing fashion, but Unfortunate and somewhat Uninterestingly Predictable Events all the same. It’s just…I mean, it’s fine. But it’s got nothing on All the Wrong Questions. Which is also written by Lemony Snicket and beats Unfortunate Events hollow. It’s just a fascinating series. One of the most page-turning ones I’ve ever read in fact. Writing is stellar, characters are quirky and somewhat unpredictable, and the plot is genuinely fascinating. The only thing I don’t like about the series is that it seems to have Snicket’s signature nihilistic values/message. It’s just kinda got a depressing, morally ambiguous ending. So there are many better things to read. But if you must read Snicket, try that. It’s much better than the other. And overall less nihilistic of tone I think. If I recall correctly. I actually read it quite a while ago and have just been revisiting it in small samples recently.

The Days of Disney HisFic–A Pair of Fascinating Films Nobody Talks About

Okay okay you got me on that one–The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh is technically a miniseries rather than a film. But still.

I grew up with The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh and Blackbeard’s Ghost as staples in my film diet. After losing track of our copies and forgetting both things existed, I have recently returned to both and found them as delightful and odd as I remembered.

Blackbeard’s Ghost is a comedy about a small coastal town (particularly one small business within it) struggling to shake the influence of the gang lord gambler that has the whole place under his thumb. The way they do that is (quite accidentally) by the town track coach summoning the rum-befuddled and highly mischievous ghost of Blackbeard. It’s highly entertaining, hilarious, and occasionally slightly eerie. Just occasionally though.

The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh is a far darker offering, loosely based on the book series by Russell Thorndike that came out around World War One (which I have not read). It’s a sort of Robin Hood tale, about an Anglican clergyman in Southern England who moonlights as a smuggler, robbing from the rich to give to the poor and attempting to thwart the taxes, press-ganging, and general cruelty of the local law. The reason for the title is that the clergyman, as well as his two assistants (one his sexton, the other the son of the local lord), all hide their identities between somewhat alarming scarecrow masks. It’s quite an odd thing, and like Blackbeard’s Ghost, does not really seem like a Disney piece; however, both were made in the 60s, back when Disney still did a lot of fanciful live action historical fiction. I’m not sure if any of y’all would like either of them, to be honest. It’s one of those things where I can’t tell if the only reason I like it is nostalgia. It’s not that either of them are bad, it’s just they’re…kinda odd. And niche. And at times very old Disney cheesey. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed revisiting them, and recalling my siblings and I imitating Blackbeard’s best episodes and tromping around our country property singing the Scarecrow theme song…perhaps I shall link that below. And in fact, if you’re curious, the entire Scarecrow miniseries (either in its three episode format or its connected hour and a half movie format, as Disney made both) is available to watch for free on YouTube.

The Song I Wouldn’t Have Given the Time of Day

It’s called Hallelujah.

That’s why I wouldn’t have given it the time of day.

You all know how that is, I’m certain. When it comes to sacred music, having Hallelujah as a title spells ‘Cheesey’ and ’70s’ and ‘Modernist movement’.

But my dear housemate…hmm I need a fake name for her…hmm. The thing of it is, she’s actually kinda famous in the classical music community and can be found performing and/or lecturing on many corners of the internet as well as real life…so I don’t…actually have to give her a fake name I guess? but y’know what, I think I shall anyhow. Just in case. Let’s call her Victoria. Victoria, my dear housemate, in a rare fit of actually being in the neighborhood, subbed for the Schola director (schola = Gregorian chant focused choir that leads musical liturgy) this week with all of her fancy classical music knowledge, and hauled out an early American piece of choral music that I actually really loved…? It’s not something I would’ve given the time of day if I was acquainted from a distance, like I said, but it’s actually really beautiful in its own way. Reminds me a lot of some of the simple Appalachian folk hymns I know (Bright Morning Stars, Long Time Traveller, etc etc). So yeah. I really liked it. I’ll link a version similar to the one we sung below.

A Festival of Ballads, a Festival of Apples, and a Festival of Oktober…kinda.

So I’ve been a much more social person than I ever knew I was in the past few months. I’ve been to a lot of places and done a lot of things that I kinda…didn’t think existed still? Which is stupid of me because of course things like that still exist…erm, I’m not making sense, let me explain. *clears throat*

a) a whole pack of Catholics from my parish (close to 20 of us all told, I think?) were invited one clear, warm September Saturday down to the farm one of the parish families owns for a cider making. We swarmed their apple trees and picked to our hearts content, we chopped apples endlessly and were quite alarmed by the population of earwigs, we took turns grinding the apple pieces in the hopper and smashing them in the hand cider presses and straining the cider through cheesecloths, and all told, we made over twenty gallons of apple cider, all whilst cheerfully talking and laughing and listening to folk music and bluegrass. (what an atrociously run on sentence.) It was a lovely lovely day. Victoria and I, as a household, were sent home with several gallons of cider, and even though I was so achy I couldn’t move the next day (going from a stationary bookkeeper to a farmhand is not the best idea. Especially if you’re hauling full bushel baskets and heavy ladders over fences singlehandedly. Not to mention climbing apple trees.) I would do it again in a heartbeat, and hope to go again next year.

b) After that, Victoria and I decided we wanted to do something folksy of our own, so we invited many of the same people over to our house for a ballad sing. Which is exactly what it sounds like. We’ve done it before with poetry, but this time was special because we focused it on folk music. Everybody was asked to bring a ballad to be sung (or if desired, read) to the other members of the party, as we all sat around the fire the fellows built in the firepit. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had, and I learned several fantastic new ballads I had never heard before, as well as singing my way through a small chunk of my own memorized repertoire. (I think I sang five or six songs, all told?) As y’all well know, sharing folk music with others and introducing them to the beauty of some of the songs I’ve been taught over the years is one of my favorite things to do, and so to have a whole party solely for the purpose of exchanging folk songs made me extremely happy. I am also very pleased that certain folks in my parish circle have now given me the title of ‘The Ballad Queen’. We’re planning on doing it again as soon as ever we can and I absolutely can’t wait for next time.

c) Finally, and most recently, my boss (Daddy Rabbit, if you’ve read my post on my workplace) is locally famous for quite a few things but particularly for hosting an Oktoberfest at his home at the end of September and inviting pretty much our entire parish to it. I’m not sure how many years he’s done it now, but this was my first year going. There were like three hundred people there. It was a lot. And I expected to hate it because I don’t like crowds and I don’t drink but…I actually had the time of my life? Perhaps it was partly because I constantly had something to make conversation about even with the people I didn’t know–that due to the fact that Victoria and I got ourselves up in traditional German style, with the help of some garments and some fashion advice given to us by my German immigrant Oma (grandmother). Unusual outfits make for a good ice-breaker, it turns out, particularly an authentic dirndl…which is probably over a century old considering it belonged to my father’s Oma (my great grandmother, or ‘Or Oma’. Probably spelled that wrong but that’s how it’s pronounced at least.) Anyway. However old it was, it was definitely a conversation starter.

There ya go. Although we do have faces in real life, and Victoria’s is already circulating on the internet, I’d rather not make any hasty decisions. Regardless, we had a glorious time in our glorious German get up and I’m looking forward to next year.

I shall end this segment with a very peaceful and rare ballad that I’m strongly considering bringing to the next folk song and poetry gathering Victoria and I host.

An Anniversary and Some Rambling Thoughts About Grief

So yeah. Usually I dread this time of year. I mean, I like autumn. But I don’t like the memories piled up within it. I have, many a time before, referenced ‘The Dead One’ whilst writing posts, and recently realized that he’s dead, so it doesn’t really matter if you know anything about him. So, as I mentioned in passing in a previous post, The Dead One is my father; he passed away before I even hit my teens, after a seven year battle with a rare kind of cancer. The anniversary of his death is, as it happens, on September 26th, and the days leading up to his death were also fraught with trouble, as you may imagine. It’s strange to think that on the same night I was enjoying myself at Oktoberfest, 11 years previously, small Grim cried herself to sleep, in too much distress to even say goodnight to the one she was weeping for.

I regret that. That goodnight would’ve been the last one before he slipped into a two day coma that ended it.

But even as I type that, I find myself shaking my head and smiling. ‘Ended it.’ Ended what? His life on earth, yes, but that’s little surprise. As one of my other dear bosses once said, in his usual contemplative, yet straightforward tone,

“Well, y’know, the mortality rate is 100%.”

Now. Don’t call me heartless, dear reader, because I can assure you I’m not. Grief for my father had me in a state of near constant confusion and despair for many more years than I’d like to admit.

But when it comes down to it…

Mortality rate is 100%.

My father did not die feeble of spirit. He was a good Catholic, and a good husband, and a good father until the last. He worked full time, even while he was in a wheelchair, until a month before his death. He left us well provided for, and with many urgings to my mother to remarry so that my siblings and I would have a father.

I am reminded of something my mother’s father told me once, upon hearing I struggled over missing my father.

“I always thought that your father died like a man, and I admired him for it.”

And he did. He died a man, and a devout Catholic man. For that much, I pray, hope, and believe him to have gone to his Eternal Rest.

“And Gabriel’s trumpet, and the voice of the Lord

Shall wake up the dead in the old churchyard…”

I am told I am very like my father. I know at least, that the love of folk music was given to me by him. I often find myself wishing I could share this or that song with him, but since I can’t, I go and listen to some of his old favorites instead. This one in particular he was known to play on repeat.

I suppose the main reason I always struggled over the matter of his death is because he was such a good man, and so many, priests included, were so hopeful of him attaining Heaven. Selfish as I was (and still am), the idea that my own father was in perfect happiness without me was quite difficult. Not because I was jealous of his happiness, but because I couldn’t see how he would still think of or love me under such circumstances.

I finally got some closure on that matter only a little while ago. It’s very hard to see this when one is stuck in a slough of despondency and grief, but Heaven is and always will be perfect goodness, since it is perfect union with God. As such, no good can be absent from Heaven. And it is a good to love those that God has given you. As such, it cannot be absent that my dear father still loves me as one of his own. And perhaps the theology I’m referencing is not quite right and I’m wrong about this… but…it’s been a comfort to me, and to others who’ve experienced similar things. I have passed this bit of wisdom I received from others on to friends who are grieving, and now I’m passing it to you. 🙂 Perhaps there is somebody reading this who will take comfort in that little diatribe. If so, all credit goes to my good friend Wally, who I’ve referenced in previous posts, usually by quoting something he’s said. He’s a fellow of rather uncanny wisdom considering he is not really a scholar of any sort and isn’t old enough to have collected much insight from experiences. Regardless, I am grateful to Wally for having advised me to a point of some closure on the matter, particularly by making the observation above. And I will remain grateful to him whether or not he meant to or is aware how impactful he was (he doesn’t seem to be haha).

And to you my friend, if you are grieving in any fashion, I’d encourage you to not grieve in a vacuum. That happened to be my mistake. Eleven years and many tears later, I’ve finally come to the end of it. Certainly, I am still sad at times…but I think I’ll be all right now.

And I think my father is happy to know that.

So yes, it is still a tough time of year. But I am forming new memories and new dear friendships and new found families, trying my best to forge ahead on the path of sainthood my father traced before me, wielding the tools of intelligence and honesty he left behind for my use–and yes, even the tool of folk music, which God has used to make me many friends and to keep me company on lonely nights of tears when only aching loss and endless bereavement seemed to stretch in front of me.

So. On this eleventh anniversary of my father’s death, I have only to say this:

I have much to be grateful for.

Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal…

P.S. I shall see you next Monday friends, with a some sort of folk music post! Here’s a (coffee) health to all of you lovely company and to all those mentioned above! Thank God for good friends and have a good week! 🙂

4 replies on “Here’s A Health–Life of late, feat. rediscoveries, an anniversary, a ballad sing, and a festival”

Okay, The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh sounds like a lot of fun! I’m familiar with a few of Disney’s early historical-fiction movies, most recently Bullwhip Griffin (which is based on a story my siblings & I read for school, By The Great Horn Spoon), and it’s not the best movie ever, but it’s also 1) not terrible and 2) quite funny, so. *shrugs*

Ooh, Hallelujah is quite nice–and not at all what the name might suggest. I’m definitely with you on the connotations of the name…

Cider picking, ballad singing, et al sound like a great deal of fun! And your German outfits are adorable!

Your father sounds absolutely wonderful, and…I don’t really know what other right things to say are, because saying “I’m sorry for your loss” seems wrong, especially after all of the beautiful things you’ve said about your grieving process. So, I guess I’ll leave it at that. Your father sounds like he was a wonderful man. I hope that’s not the wrong thing to say. XD

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It is a lot of fun! If you ever try it, I recommend watching it in the original miniseries format rather than the cut down film version. Much cooler that way (the miniseries, as it happens, is the thing that’s on YouTube).
Also, I love By the Great Horn Spoon (the book) a lot. Like, a lot. So now methinks I’ll have to look the movie up.
Yeah, it’s really nice and I did not expect it. XD
Thanks! It was lovely, and I’m still just in wonder that things like that actually happen.
He was. 🙂 and you said all the right things. God bless you Sam dear!


Okay, I hope you’ll share your thoughts on The Book Thief when you finish, because I actually quite despise that book and it’s mainly for the ending. I was enjoying it up to then. And so I’m interested to know how it’ll strike you (‘cause most people love it, including the folks with whom I share bookish tastes).

Your folksy fall activities sound scrumptious, and I’m jealous now. I went to a wedding yesterday, of the oldest boy in a family I know very well but I don’t know him very well; it was on their farm, way down at the edge of the field where the trees start; the guests sat on square haybales, the bridal party arrived in their new semi (he and his dad have a trucking business), and the bride and groom branded a cowhide (with the family brand) together for their special thing. I have never, until this experience, understood why someone would want to get married anywhere besides in church; but I saw suddenly exactly the appeal it would have to get married by your pastor in one of the fields where your father and
your grandfather and your great-grandfather have worked and raised their families and where YOU will work and raise your family, surrounded by friends and all the ordinary things that make life sweet, in amidst the cycle that you are solemnly swearing to perpetuate…and yeah, I thought of that when you talked about your folk sings and stuff. Friendship and family and the gathering thereof for celebration and gratitude is a lovely thing, especially in the fall.

Oh me, I listened to the Scarecrow song and it was weirdly great and now I might watch this.

Hallelujah sounds SO APPALACHIAN. I’m not sure if I noticed this simply because you mentioned it or if I would have anyway but regardless I loved it. Particularly since, for just a second, I thought you were referring to the Leonard Cohen “Hallelujah” (which my sister and her friends used to sing to torture me when I walked into a room) and THANK GOODNESS YOU WERE NOT.

That ballad made me feel like I do after listening to Bach sometimes—too still to break it by moving. I love music.

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Okay, very sadly, despite it being nearly a month later–*winces*–I haven’t gotten to finish it yet. But when I do, I’ll be sure to tell y’all how I like it.
Ohhh that sounds so beautiful. Just so lovely. I hope I have a wedding with that kinda meaning to it some day. I mean, all weddings have meaning, but you know what I mean, I’m sure. God is so good to us humans, Sarah, giving us loveliness like fall and folk music and good friends and shorn fields and just *flails*–just why is He so NICE to us, y’know what I mean??
I KNOW RIGHT. I highly recommend. As I said above, it’s free on YouTube so…*shrugs*
It does, though! And Sarah dear, how could you suspect me of such a thing. If I’m about to oust a terrible opinion like that, I shall warn you beforehand, I promise heh. But yeah. It’s really lovely.
I know exactly what you mean about Limerick. It’s just one of those things where it seems too beautiful to be real and you’re afraid if you react it will slip away…
Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! God bless you!

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