Sunday, December 25, 2011

"I heard the bells,

on Christmas Day,
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December is the twelfth and final month

of the Gregorian calendar and the first month of winter. It derives its name from the Latin word decem, meaning ten, as December was the tenth month of the oldest Roman calendar until a monthless winter period was divided between January and February. The Latin name is derived from Decima, the middle Goddess of the Three Fates who personifies the present, and she measured the thread of life with her rod. She is the goddess of childbirth (not married either), and with Nona and Morta she forms the Parcae (the three Fates).
Originally it was a single goddess named Parca meaning create or give birth, but the Goddess of Fate eventually became the triple goddess Parcae. The first Triple Goddess Nona, the spinner, means ninth month, the second Decima, translates as measurer, and the third Morta, cutter of the thread of life, means death. Interesting that the one translated into a trinity...and that women then controlled the fate of the world.

December begins on the same day of the week as September every year because there are 91 days separating September and December, which is a multiple of seven (the number of days in the week). It ends on the same day as April every year also.

So, just a little bit of trivia this week...I had essays to read, grades to calculate, and so my mind needs to recharge!And now as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, I shall "sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"How did it get so late so soon?

Its night before its afternoon. December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?"
~Dr. Seuss
I went out to get the paper this morning, and the moon was bright in the sky across the street...the air finally had a winter chill...the bird bath had iced over...and Harry was a bit upset with the frosty leaves...But, I thought this is what winter holidays should represent. Not the madness of buying stuff, but especially for us in the areas where the climate changes, the calm of a chilly morning...the frosty feel...the peace and quiet.

Enjoy the old fashioned holiday spirit...I can remember going with my father to Woolworth's to buy my mother something for Christmas. I usually picked out a figurine...
These are the Erich Stauffer figurines. I call them "Hummel-wanna-bes"...although in today's market, the Hummels are not bringing the money they used to, and Hummmels are no longer the expensive figurine.

Still, I love the Stauffer figurines. According to my research, Erich Stauffer designed fake versions of Hummels and Kalk figurines for Arnart from 1953 to 1970 under the brands Arnart Imports, 5th Avenue, ArMark, Royal Carlton, Royal Chintz, and Royal Crown.Arnart is known by its crown and crossed arrow symbols on the bottom, some of which are printed with numbers in a series in porcelain or on a sticker. Erich Stauffer, a traditional German name, may even have been invented to make it seem as though the Arnart imports were from Germany. This could explain why it is so hard to find out information about Erich Stauffer, the designer. After World War II, Arnart was part of the influx of cheap Japanese imports flooding the US market. Arnart’s imitations began to tarnish their brand so in 1957 Arnart changed their name to “5th Avenue” after securing their 5th Avenue office in downtown New York and stopped using a printed stamped “Made in Japan” pottery mark, replacing it with a “Made in Japan” sticker. In 2000, 5th Avenue changed their name again to Arnart Imports Inc.Many think these figurines are 1940s since the war would have prevented imports from Germany, but that is not true since production began after the war. It was simply a matter of producing inexpensive items for the 5 & 10s (now the $1.00 stores!). There is something old-fashioned about them though...nostalgia got the best of me this morning!!!

I still have more flower frogs to show you, but that full moon this morning took me down a different path.

"A full moon hangs high in the chilly sky,
All say it's the same everywhere, round and bright.
But how can one be sure thousands of li away
Wind and perhaps rain may not be marring the night?"
~Li Qiao, The Mid-Autumn Moon

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"A bird is three things:

Feathers, flight and song,
And feathers are the least of these."

~Marjorie Allen Seiffert

The flower frogs...birds...this week are from Czechoslovakia...and again...history is so crucial in understanding the origins of these treasures.When porcelain was first produced in Bohemia, Bohemia was a part of the Habsburg Monarchy in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There were several mines in the area of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic (Karlsbad, Bohemia, Austria). Another area with several factories is Trnovany, Czech Republic (Teplitz, Bohemia, Austria). These areas became the center of porcelain production, especially Karlovy Vary. Bohemian porcelain made before 1918 may be marked with the country of origin as Austria. Most of the factories were founded when the area was still under Austrian rule. Thus, the town and village names are the German/Austrian names. Once Czechoslovakia became a country, the towns and villages did not always mark with their old Czech names.

At the end of World War I (November 1918), the Paris Peace committee created a new country with the Bohemia, Moravia & Austrian Silesia sections of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a northern strip of Hungary. The committee named the new country Czecho-Slovak Republic, with a hyphen. In 1920, Ruthenia was made a part of Czechoslovakia. Most of the people in the new country were the Czechs (Bohemians) and Slovaks, thus the name Czecho-Slovakia. However, there were great differences between their cultural and religious traditions. (Does it ever strike anyone as odd that civilization cannot move beyond culture and religion? Guess there is no "APP" for that either!)

Anyway, the country's pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair had the spelling Czechoslovakia and Czecho-Slovakia.

At times, you will see the German spelling with a "w" instead of a "v," Czecho-Slowakia, or an "e" at the end instead of an "a," Czecho-Slovakie. Another spelling is Tehechoslovacia. During Hitler's control of Czechoslovakia, the country was part of Germany; therefore, some Bohemian porcelain states Germany as the country of origin. This is marked Bavaria, but it has that lustre that the Czecho-slovkian porclain is so well known for.In September 1938, the Bohemia borderlands (the former Sudetenland) were ceded to Germany. March 1939, the Nazis occupied all of Czechoslovakia. In 1945, after World War II, the country of Czechoslovakia was restored to its original borders, except the Ruthenia section was ceded to the USSR. After this time the hyphen was not used in the English spelling of the country. During the communist rule, it became Ceskoslovenska Socialisticka Republika (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic). Czechoslovakia ceased being a country January 1, 1993, when it was divided into the Ceská Republika(Czech Republic) and Slovák Republika(Slovak Republic). The Czechs and Slovaks always wanted to be independent entities.

"There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before." - Robert Lynd