Sunday, December 14, 2008

Indolence in the Face of Christmas

I have no business expecting to get any sleep tonight as I have just spent the laziest Sunday in human history. The sun did not appear at all. We might just as well have been in the arctic circle for all the sunlight we got today. I left the house once, in search of silver polish (to shine up a silver-plated pitcher that I am soon to bestow on Shackleton's volunteer reading tutor as a "thank you" and Christmas acknowledgment). I came home with milk, fruit roll ups and English muffins. No polish. The general stores in the vicinity don't stock it and I wasn't driving twelve miles to the county seat to the nearest open hardware store. I improvised with some ancient pewter polish. The pitcher was not fully restored to its turn-of-the-century grandeur but it achieved a certain gaudy charm.

The one other thing I managed to do was scan the illustration that serves as today's banner. This comes from an old story book called Tales Told In Holland. I wrote about it here last summer, noting that its strength is found in the fabulous illustrations by Maud and Mishka Petersham. The stories and poems have pretty well lost their appeal (if they ever had any). I was reminded of this illustration while reading Jaywalker's discussion of the Dutch/Flemish (horribly politically incorrect) Christmas tradition of zwart Piet - the Moor who accompanies St. Nick on his horse and who doles out punishment to bad children. I hadn't bothered to read the story accompanying this illustration, although it had caught my eye last summer (I had wondered who the black kid in the ruff was and why Santa had a horse). Today I got only part way through. The "tale" started with something about how a poor Dutch fellow was once on the verge of "selling his three daughters" when someone dropped money down his chimney. His benefactor was the Bishop who became St. Nick. I couldn't focus long enough to find out how he acquired Piet. Oh, the charms of Old Europe. Lovely illustration, though, isn't it?

7 comments:

Nan said...

you probably already know this, and it is probably too late, but I've always used toothpaste to polish silvery things, like earrings. :<) I use Tom's Toothpaste, but I'm sure they all work.

KSV Woolfoot said...

Hi Nan-
Thanks for the tip and all the nice comments you left today. I didn't try toothpaste - we didn't have any to spare. Maybe next time.

Lulu LaBonne said...

I was just going to comment on the lovely new banner but am now intrigued by toothpaste and it's uses.

Snow looks great by the way.

KSV Woolfoot said...

Hey Lulu - I was just over at E.S., checking out the latest from your corner of the world. Nothing so interesting as Petanque and druids mingling in a goth bar here in northern New England. We do have snow, though. Well, actually, all this snow melted yesterday, but it is freezing again and snow is in the forecast.

Thud said...

I really like the banner...Although supposedly European we here in England know little of our neighbours traditions.

KSV Woolfoot said...

Hi Thud.
Thanks for stopping by. I had a quick look at your blog and will be back. A class traitor? I am intrigued.

Thud said...

Thanks!...class in England is still a minefield regardless of our governments claims of meritocracy. During my stays in America I enjoy the fact that at least for me class is no longer a factor.....anyway...count me as a regular here...especialy if you show more snow pics!